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More disputes arise over land confiscation

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Another dispute has arisen regarding the confiscation of about 800 acres of farmland in Mingalardon Township in Rangoon, which was confiscated by a company owned by an MP who paid the farmers compensation.

The Burmese government's policy of land confiscation has led to calls for farmers to have the right to own land, which is now denied under government laws and regulations. Photo: MizzimaLast year, the Zaykabar (Zaygabar) Company, owned by Khin Shwe, a Lower House MP of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), seized the farmland from a total of 71 farmers in Shwenanttha and Paungku villages in Pearl Myothit in Mingalardon Township, and paid the farmers 600,000 kyat per acre.

Local authorities and company staff have now prohibited farmers from growing paddy on the confiscated farmland, which is a violation of the agreement, farmers said.

A farmer in Shwenanttha Village said on condition of anonymity, ‘A few weeks ago, when I was about to start cultivation, the security staff from the company came and prohibited me from preparing the land’.

According to the agreement, farmers say, Khin Shwe promised that the 71 farmers could continue to grow paddy on the land until the company began a construction project.

‘We could grow paddy on the land in 2010. But now in 2011, they stopped us from growing paddy because they want to work on the land, so we are financially ruined’, Kyaw Sein, who owned 50 acres of the confiscated land, told Mizzima.

When the company bulldozed holding embankments and some land was flooded and spoiled, the company gave farm owners 300,000 kyat per an acre as compensation.

Currently, Zaykabar (Zaygabar) Company is building concrete roads on the land for an industrial zone project, the farmers said.

Farmers said that when the company bought farmland in April 2010, the price of the land was valued at 2 million kyat per acre, but the company bought the land at low bargain prices. The company claims that it paid more than the value of the land including providing compassionate grants.

A farmer in Shwenanttha, who attended a meeting organized by the company, said, ‘He [the owner] said that he did not buy our farmland. The land was confiscated by the state, not by the Zaykabar (Zaygabar) Company, and the state usually gives landowners only a few tens of thousands of kyat’.

The Zaykabar (Zaygabar) Company owner’s daughter is married to the son of the former third highest military general, Shwe Mann (the current speaker of Lower House).

In response to a question from Mizzima, Khin Shwe said, ‘The farmers said that we bought the land. We don’t have the right to buy the land. In fact, the land is owned by the state. But the people misunderstand this’.

‘Last year, some of them grew paddy when we were building roads. The paddy land was in the way, so when we built drainage ditches and roads, some paddy was spoiled. In fact, the land can produce just 50 units of paddy per acre. If they sold 50 units of paddy, they could earn 150,000 kyat. But we gave them 300,000 kyat as compensation because we did not want them to be destroyed financially’, Khin Shwe said.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 June 2011 13:49 )  

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