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Land confiscation begins with pipeline project

New Delhi (Mizzima) - Local residents in Kyuakphyu Township of Arakan State in Western Burma have alleged that authorities have not paid compensation, despite assurances, for the 150 acres of farmland that have been seized in May.

A local resident of Malakyun village in Kyuakphyu Township told Mizzima that their farm lands were seized by authorities on the pretext of setting up Oil Terminal. They were promised handsome compensation for their land.

“They [authorities] made us sign an agreement paper. The paper mentioned details of the compensation that we would receive but so far there is no sign of any compensation,” a local villager of Malakyun told Mizzima.

According to the resident of Kyaukphyu town, authorities have begun laying the foundation for the terminal in the farmlands, where local villagers have been using them for coconut plantation.

“For some villagers, the land means everything, as they have no other land to cultivate,” said the local, adding that so far there are no signs of any compensation.

While the villagers and local townsfolk might see the confiscation of the land as another normal practice of Burma’s ruling military junta, the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) on November 3 announced that it has begun work on constructing dual gas and petroleum pipelines in the area.

According to the Shwe Gas Movement, an activists group monitoring the junta’s gas exploration and oil drilling in Arakan state, the CNPC is to construct a gas terminal and an oil terminal in Kyuakphyu Township.

The proposed dual pipeline will be connected to the terminals. While the gas pipeline will transport gas from the Shwe Gas fields, located in offshore gas fields in Arakan state, the oil pipeline will transport oil brought from Middle East and African countries to China’s Southwestern Yunnan province.

“Many people are desperate about their land being confiscated but some are hoping that the gas turbines could provide us some electricity once completed,” a government employee told Mizzima.

However, the Shwe Gas Movement said CNPC has obtained the sole right to purchase the gas produced from the Shwe Gas Fields, belying the hopes of villagers.

Stakes in the Shwe Gas fields is held by Korea’s Daewoo, Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS), India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and India’s Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

Currently, Kyaukphyu Township receives electricity only from 6 p.m. till 9 p.m. for six consecutive days. On the seventh day there is no supply.

Campaigners said the gas terminals and pipeline constructions are not going to help the villagers, as the Burmese government had agreed to sell the gas to China for 30 years that will provide up to US $ 30 billion to the ruling junta.

Wong Aung, a member of the Shwe Gas Movement, said, “This project is not going to benefit the locals as it will not even create proper employment. Despite various abuses, other companies such as garment factories can provide employment but this pipeline project will not provide any such opportunity.”

He added that the proposed pipeline, which is estimated to be about 900 kilometers within Burma, will further create severe human rights violations along its route.

“There will be more land confiscations, forced labour, and many other severe human rights violations as the junta clears the path for the pipeline,” Wong Aung said.

Envisaging such terrible rights violations, Wong Aung’s group along with several other environmental organizations last month submitted an appeal to Chinese President Hu Jintao to halt the project.

Reporting Khaing Suu, Writing and editing Mungpi

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 10 November 2009 13:59 )  

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