Govt un­clear over who to com­pen­sate in Sh­w­e­gyin hy­dropower dis­pute

The Myanmar Times - - News - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­ – Trans­la­tion by San Layy

FARM­ERS in Bago Re­gion’s Sh­w­e­gyin town­ship who were dis­placed by a hy­dropower pro­ject have not yet re­ceived com­pen­sa­tion be­cause the in­volved par­ties have yet to come to an agree­ment on who ex­actly was im­pacted.

The drain-off from the plant forced many peo­ple from their homes and farms but cur­rently there are two con­flict­ing lists as to who should re­ceive com­pen­sa­tion, said Union Min­is­ter for Elec­tric­ity and En­ergy U Pe Zin Tun.

The pro­jected was launched by the pre­vi­ous mil­i­tary govern­ment in 2000. It be­gan gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity in 2011. The govern­ment has said it will pay com­pen­sa­tion to res­i­dents whose gar­dens, yards and farm­lands were con­fis­cated when the pro­ject was be­ing built, but it is still scru­ti­n­is­ing who should re­ceive the money, the min­is­ter said on July 25.

In 2012, a group led by lo­cal U Cho Win com­plained to the Pyi­daungsu Hlut­taw’s Con­fis­cated Land In­ves­ti­ga­tion Com­mis­sion that aside from Da­nipha, Lower Mezar and Kyaut­naga vil­lages, which were re­lo­cated when the pro­ject started, they can­not find any ev­i­dence of com­pen­sa­tion, ei­ther in cash or re­lo­ca­tion plots, given to res­i­dents im­pacted by the pro­ject’s drain-off.

In to­tal, 2482 acres of land were lost, ac­cord­ing to a com­plaint let­ter sent by the group. Dis­place­ment in­cluded 251 peo­ple from 59 house­holds in Lower Mezar vil­lage, 171 peo­ple in 60 house­holds in Kyaut­pha vil­lage, and 378 farm­ers, it said.

In re­sponse to the let­ter, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion team was sent to the area in June 2015. The team met with the Town­ship Farm­land Man­age­ment and Sta­tis­tics Depart­ment, a peace­mak­ing com­mit­tee from the Karen Na­tional Union (KNU), and the lo­cal leader U Cho Win, U Pe Zin Tun said. “The in­ves­ti­ga­tion team com­pared the list sub­mit­ted in the orig­i­nal com­plaint let­ter with the list of the KNU and found them to be very dif­fer­ent,” he said.

There­fore, ne­go­ti­a­tions over the cor­rect data and com­pen­sa­tion rates are still on­go­ing and no pay­outs have been made.

“In ad­di­tion to the ini­tial lists of con­fis­cated lands, there was another, ex­tra list found af­ter the in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” U Pe Zin Tun said. “An in­ves­ti­ga­tion of why there is an ex­tra list is needed. Com­pen­sa­tion will be paid out based on the col­lected lists. There­fore, hlut­taw rep­re­sen­ta­tives have to work to­gether with the min­istry. Our side needs to pro­ceed with­out par­tial­ity.”

Pyithu Hlut­taw rep­re­sen­ta­tive Saw La Lay Saw of Sh­w­e­gyin town­ship has asked that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion be con­cluded promptly and won­dered whether com­pen­sa­tion would come in the form of new land or cash.

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