Monday, 09 December 2019

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Shan farmers urge gas pipeline project to be moved

The Northern Shan Farmers Committee and other Shan organizations urged the government to relocate the oil and gas pipeline project that passes through the Northern Shan State on Friday.

map-gas-pipelineThe oil and gas pipeline connecting to Yunnan Province in China from Rakhine State in Myanmar will be operatational from May this year. The pipeline passes through the Northern Shan State and the project could threaten the safety of the residents, said the Shan organizations.

The Northern Shan Farmers Committee represents about 10,000 Shan farmers and sent a petition letter to the Shan State government, putting forward their demands.

Similarly, Thai-based Shan organizations held a press conference in Chiang Mai on Friday to explain their concerns.

“Since the construction of the pipeline started, Shan farmers lost their farmlands and because of the negative consequences, farmers will urge the Shan State government in Taunggyi to fulfill our demands,” said Sai Khay Sai, a member of a Shan environmental conservation group.    

Ying Harn Fah, a spokesperson for the Shan Women's Action Network [SWAN], said that after the visit of some members of SWAN to Myanmar in November 2012, Shan people became more united, so they are likely to launch a joint-protest against Shwe pipeline project.

“We raised a strong objection to the project since about four or five years ago and we were offered [partial] compensation. This year, we can organize more lobbies as the communication links are better. Today [Friday], farmers demand full compensation,” Ying Harn Fah told Mizzima.

One third of the 800-mile Shwe gas pipeline has destroyed around 2,000 acres of farmlands and forests due to soil dumping and water blockages in Shan State.

Authorities compensated farmers in seven townships last year but the amounts were unreasonable and differed from township to township. It was reported that in the process of compensating farmers, some local authorities were corrupt and forced farmers to pay 10 percent of their compensation to local authorities.

The Chinese state-owned firm China National Petroleum Co and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise have conducted the oil and gas pipeline project. The gas obtained from offshore gas fields in the Bay of Bengal and oil from Middle East countries will be sent to China’s Yunnan Province through the pipelines.

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