Sunday, August 20, 2017

Kyaukphyu farmers refuse pipeline compensation

Holdout farmers are threatening to sue the Southeast Asia Gas Pipeline Company unless they receive the compensation they demand for damage caused by a pipeline running from Rakhine State to China’s Yunnan province.

Workers in Kyaukphyu take a break. Photo: Thiri Lu / The Myanmar TimesWorkers in Kyaukphyu take a break. Photo: Thiri Lu / The Myanmar Times

The company, known as SEAGP, has paid out K210 million in compensation to 200 farmers in Kyaukphyu township between October 2015 and April this year, its spokesperson told The Myanmar Times. But 20 farmers have refused to accept the money.

“We paid compensation in accordance with Myanmar law, even to farmers whose land was not destroyed. We want to maintain good relations between the company and local residents. But 20 farmers have refused the compensation,” said Henry Zhang, deputy public relations manager, adding that the company is prepared to compensate all the farmers affected by its operations, if they are recognised by the regional government.

The 20 farmers threatening legal action own land about 500 metres (1640 feet) from the plant that produces the natural gas to be pumped into the pipeline.

“We have investigated all their claims. Some are valid, but most are not. Nevertheless, we have discussed the possibility of paying them the same compensation as the other farmers. I don’t know why they are refusing,” Mr Zhang said.

U Tun Kyi, a negotiator for the Kyaukphyu Rural Development Association, says the farmers want their land to be restored so they can cultivate it, rather than accepting money.

Daw Kyi Kyi Hnin, who owns 2 acres of paddy, said the dispute would not have arisen if the company had taken responsibility for the consequences of its operations.

“All we want is to grow paddy on our own lands. If the company had not dumped waste, our land would not have been polluted,” she said.