Friday, May 23, 2008

31 given eviction notices - The Star

May 23, 2008 Story and photo by CHARLES FERNANDEZ

THIRTY-ONE farmers in Dengkil have received an order to vacate the 25ha land on which they have been farming since 1972.

The land office has earlier this year put up a signboard at the site to inform the farmers of the takeover of the land by Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad (KDEB), the investment arm of the Selangor Government.

The farmers were shocked when early this month KDEB asked them to vacate the land as it has been sold to property developer Gema Padu, the developers of Kota Warisan in Dengkil.

Please help us: The affected farmers staging a peaceful demonstration in front of the land and district office in Sepang.

The TOL land was offered to the farmers in 1972 by the Kajang land and district office but in 1996 they were told by the Sepang land and district office that their farming land would be alienated for the purpose of converting it into a landfill.

The farmers said they were also told by the land office that they would not be required to pay assessment on the land after 1996, but they could continue their farming activities until such time they were asked to move out.

The sudden change of land ownership to a private company has angered the farmers who feel they have been cheated and being forced to give up the land for a housing development instead.

As compensation, Gema Padu has offered RM100,000 for the land but the farmers are not agreeable to it.

The farmers want to know why they have been told to give up their farming land, their only source of livelihood.

“We agreed to vacate the land since it was supposed to be for a state government project.

“But we feel cheated and betrayed when the land is sold for a private housing project,’’ said Lim Chai Thiam, the spokesman for the disgruntled farmers.

Lim said they were also not allowed to carry out replanting of oil palm and durian trees and this had caused them to suffer losses.

He said when the farmers rejected the RM100,000 compensation from Gema Padu, the company then offered to pay for each tree.

“This counter-offer was even worse off as most of the trees were no longer productive and we stand to gain less if we had accepted,’’ Lim said.

The farmers have lodged a report on May 15 at the Sepang police station alleging a land scam. The following day they went to the Sepang land and district office to vent their frustrations but they were not allowed in. They then decided to stage a peaceful demonstration in front of the land and district office in Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi.

According to Lim, most of them have been farming on the land for the past 36 years and giving up the land for a housing project was not something they were expecting.

The group also sent a memorandum to Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim. Land scams have made news over the years in Selangor before the installation of the current state government in March.

One of the biggest land scams in the state involved 150 villagers of Kampung Bukit Canggang in Dengkil who were duped into signing over their co-operative’s 205.58ha of land valued at RM237mil in 2003.

The most recent case was on March 7, a day before the recent general election, when a group of 72 smallholders in Dengkil staged a peaceful protest against being ousted from land they claimed was rightfully theirs because they had been toiling on it for the past 20 years.

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