Shan Farmers Claim Govt Siphoned Off Shwe Gas Pipeline Compensation

By Aye Kyawt Khaing 10 April 2013

RANGOON — Farmers displaced by the Shwe Gas Pipeline project in Shan State did not receive the compensation they were promised, a youth group from the area said on Tuesday.

At a press conference in Rangoon, the Taang Students and Youth Organization (TSYO) said authorities in Man Satt village, where about 20,000 hectares of land was expropriated by the local government for the project, stole from the fund set up by China National Petroleum Corporation.

“They are misusing the compensation fund,” said Mai Eike Mon, head of the TYSO human rights documentation project. “The farmers got hardly any cash for their lands.”

Farmers in the area contacted by The Irrawaddy said they were unhappy with the compensation they had received.

Sai Phee, 42, a farmer from Nanhkhan, near Man Satt, said when his land was taken by the authorities in November 2010 he was given 4 million kyat (US $4,625) for his 60 hectare plot of land.

“I made more than 5 million kyat [$5,700] annually from growing tea on my land, so this compensation is not enough for my family’s future. I will send a letter to the president,” he said.

The TSYO is planning to collect signatures for a petition, which will be handed to the President along with a letter outlining the farmers’ complaints.

The group has documented six townships which have been affected by the project—Kyaukse, Hsipaw, Nawnghkio, Nanhkan, Namtu and Manton.

“We would like to urge the authorities to provide farmers with the correct compensation and we will soon send a letter to the president outlining the suffering of the farmers from the Shwe Gas Pipeline project,” Lwai Kwe, an executive member of the TSYO, told The Irrawaddy.

But an MP in Hsipaw Township said residents there had received the full compensation agreed, totaling 4 million kyat ($4,625) per hectare. Other officials from the townships involved in allocating the funds declined to comment.

The pipeline, which runs from Kyaukphyu port in Burma’s westernmost Arakan State to Yunnan Province in China, is expected to begin operations in June.