Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Indian firm fails to compensate farmers

Wednesday, 27 March 2013 16:07 Thein Hlaing

Punj Lloyd Upstream Ltd, an Indian company which is building an extension of the Myanmar-China natural gas pipeline, has been accused of failing to compensate for damages relating to the construction of the pipeline.

The accusations have come from local community-based organizations and some of the 161 farmers who utilize a reservoir that the pipeline passes by. The 750-acre community reservoir is located nine miles from the eastern part of Kyaukphyu town and is owned by local farmers.

The gas pipeline extension project was begun in 2011, destroying a part of the dam on the reservoir, leaving farmers unable to cultivate their paddy fields for two years due to the salt entering the reservoir water.

“The farmers asked for compensation from the authorities many times but they have not been paid anything. Since the project has already finished, the farmers here have lost all hope,” said Tun Kywe, a spokesperson from the Myo Chaung region development committee.

He said that he is very disappointed that the company has turned a blind eye to the grievances of the residents and that the residents and local community organizations will fight for adequate compensation.

“I’ve been working on this land my whole life. The reservoir was damaged and it was filled with saltwater after the pipeline extension passed through it. We couldn’t cultivate the paddy fields for two years and we had to sell our buffalos and cows to make a living,” said Aung Kyaw Tun, an 80-year-old farmer from Ka-Paing-Choung village.

The residents said they reported the damage at the reservoir to a local administrative officer four times from May 2011.

Punj Lloyd reportedly sent 200 packs of cement and 500,000 kyat (US $560) through the village administrative officer and let the villagers volunteer to construct the drain pipeline.

They also reportedly gave compensation for some paddy fields but Ma Kyaw Thein, a local farmer, said that local authorities had cut off 4.9 million kyat ($55,680) from the compensation given to five farmers after accusing them of using illegal fertilizers.

Punj Lloyd has been requested to: compensate the value of each destroyed paddy field per year; rebuild all the of the damaged dam frames; conserve the forest from saltwater destruction; and construct better electricity infrastructure, as well as schools, clinics and drinking water ponds.

Punj Lloyd has said that their pipeline extension project will not be finished until May.
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  2. Bridge completed for Burma-China energy pipeline

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