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#Update*100 former settlers receive part compensation for acquired land

HULU SELANGOR: One hundred former Sungai Buaya Felda settlers, or their heirs in some cases, on Friday, April 23, received RM50,000 each from the federal government as part payment of compensation for land acquired from them for an eventually abandoned project.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the advance payment involved an allocation of RM5 million for the former settlers who had been waiting 15 years for the compensation.

Najib, who is also Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman, said they were given RM1,000 in cash and the remainder in the form of a bank draft which they could cash or invest.

Some 363 settlers left the Felda Sungai Buaya land scheme in 1994 to make way for development, and each settler was promised compensation of RM1 million, including a house, by the developer.

However, the project was abandoned due to, among other things, the 1997 economic crisis, and the settlers were paid not more than RM250,000 cash in instalments or given a house.

The remainder of the compensation would be paid at RM160,000 per acre (0.4 hectare) when the land was developed, Najib said at the presentation of the payments to former settlers and the handing over of a cheque for the construction of the Sungai Buaya elevated interchange as well as donations for mosques and surau in Hulu Selangor at the field of the Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Buaya in Batang Kali.

The prime minister said the government was most concerned about the plight of the former settlers and had taken steps to pay the arrears in compensation.

He said the construction of the Sungai Buaya elevated interchange, which was expected to boost property prices in the abandoned project area, was among the measures adopted by the government to resolve the issue.

The interchange would be built by highway concessionaire PLUS with the collaboration of the Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) at a cost of RM85 million which would be borne by PLUS.

Najib also witnessed the handing over of a letter of undertaking between PLUS and LLM, a ceremony at which Works Minister Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor was also present.

Shaziman had been reported as saying that the elevated interchange would provide access to more than 100,000 people in the area, encompassing also Sungai Buaya, Sungai Choh, Serendah and Rawang.

Najib said the government's concern for the settlers was reflected in the Islamic insurance cover of up to RM10,000 against death as well as the recognition accorded to Sungai Buaya youths as Felda youths to enjoy the necessary facilities.

"They will be offered vocational facilities sponsored by Felda. This is the effort of the BN government on the premise of 1Malaysia, people first," he said, adding that as the head of government he would ensure that all BN promises made in Hulu Selangor would be fulfilled.

At the event, the prime minister distributed financial aid to mosques and surau in the Hulu Selangor district, in varying amounts of RM3,000 and RM10,000.

Also present were Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan, Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan and Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim.-- Bernama

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