ITD Accelerates Dawei Relocation Process

By Saw Yan Naing 16 May 2012

Italian-Thai Development (ITD) is speeding up building new homes for villagers facing eviction from the Dawei (Tavoy) industrial zone as the company plans to complete all infrastructure projects by 2015.

ITD wants to complete the construction of 343 relocation houses by October so affected residents can move in by November, according to a business report by The Bangkok Post newspaper on Monday.

Some 1,860 households from five villages in Dawei region will be moved to a relocation site in Bawah Village, southern Burma.

Than Nge, a local resident in Htin Gyi Village who is being forced to relocate to Bawah, told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday that most of his neighbors do not want to move to the new site.

He said that ITD and the local Burmese authorities only offered a good price for the land of villagers with government connections, while ordinary people cannot get fair compensation for their property. Htin Gyi has around 1,000 households.

“We don’t trust them,” said Than Nge. “They said that they will provide us with electricity and other conditions, but we haven’t seen anything so far.”

“They told us that they will employ our villagers, but they only took a few of them. They only employed people who are close to the local authorities,” he added.

Saw Kwe Htoo Win, the chairman of Mergui-Tavoy District, Tenasserim Division, for the Karen National Union, said that ITD is focusing on completing a super highway road-link between Thailand’s Kachanaburi town and Dawei. The route would provide access to the multi-billion dollar developments of the Dawei deep-sea port and Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

ITD, however, has halted its planned railway and road construction as well as a 4,000-megawatt coal-fueled power plant at Dawei, according to local sources.

The Bangkok Post reported that the Burmese authorities have also picked two more relocation sites for affected villagers—Pagaw Zoon and Padin In. Pagaw Zoon will serve 2,300 households from 10 villages and Padin In is to host 52 families from a fishing village.

A total of 30,000 people may have to be relocated with efforts projected to be completed by the end of 2013, according to the English language newspaper.

“In addition to houses, we will also build hospitals, schools and utility facilities,” Panno Kraiwanit, project manager in charge of relocation and compensation at ITD, was quoted by The Bangkok Post.

The main overland access point for Dawei town, a 138 km road running from Phu Nam Ron checkpoint in Kanchanaburi Province, should have its design stage complete by the end of 2012, with construction commencing early next year. ITD says it hopes to complete all of its infrastructure projects by the end of 2015.

Panno also said that only five percent of those in the affected region have been compensated, with payments varying between 1-10 million kyats (37,700 to 377,000 baht) per hectare.

“We don’t set the compensation rate,” Panno told The Bangkok Post. “Affected villagers propose a price, which ranges from 10-50 million kyats (377,000 – 1.88 million baht) per hectare, then the Burmese authorities negotiates and tells us how much we have to pay.”

ITD employs more than 2,000 Burmese workers at Dawei to build relocation houses, access roads and pavements at the site, as well as a temporary small port for offloading building materials for construction.

The Dawei SEZ project was approved last March by Burma’s former military government. The US $60 billion project includes a deep-sea port, giant industrial zone, roads, railways, transmission lines plus oil and gas pipelines.