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21 villages to be relocated for Dawei project

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The Dawei Development Association (DDA), a local social group, said that 21 Burmese villages with a population of about 32,000 people would have to be relocated for the Dawei deep-sea port development project.
 People view a photo exhibition of the area around the Dawei deep-sea port project during a Rangoon press conference organized by the Dawei Development Group on Friday, December 16, 2011. Photo: Mizzima
More than 100,000 acres of gardens and orchards owned by local people in Launglon and Yebyu townships in Dawei District, Tanintharyi Region have to be relocated, the group said.
Local farmers have complained that the compensation given by the authorities for their farmlands, gardens and orchards is too low.
Residents will be resettled in four new locations: new villages will be located in Htwet Wa village 1 and 2; Bwa village; Du Taung village 1 and 2; and Wazwam Taw village, which are about 10 miles north of the site of the Dawei deep sea port project.

In Bwa village, more than 1,000 new houses will be built at a cost of 15 million kyat (US$ 19,230).

The DDA held a press conference in Rangoon on December 15 in support of the residents’ claims.

The authorities plan to give compensation at the rate of 8,000 kyat ($10.25) for each rubber plant, and 5,000 kyat ($6.41) for each cashew tree. The rates are one third of the market price, sources said.

Dawei development project

The Burmese military regime and Thai government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in May 2008 for the 10-year Dawei development project which includes the Dawei deep-sea port, an industrial zone and a railroad and road connecting Dawei to Thailand. The Myanmar Port Authority and the builder, the Italian-Thai Co. (ITC), signed a MoU in June 2008.

A Development Project Framework Agreement was signed by Ministry of Transport, Myanmar Port Authority Managing Director Thein Htay and ITC chairman in November 2010.

According to initial estimates, the development project, located about 20 miles from Dawei, will cost US$ 58 billion. In the first phase, the port, a coal-fired power plant, an industrial zone, a highway and railroad will be built in the 2010-14 period. The cost of the first phase is approximately US$ 8.6 billion; followed by the 160-kilometre, six-lane road and railroad which will connect with Kancahnaburi Province in Thailand through Yebyu Township, including oil and gas pipelines running along the super highway route.

Environmental concerns

The Karen National Union (KNU), which operates in the Dawei industrial zone project area, has prohibited road building for three months, citing the lack of an impact study on local residents and the environment that meets international standards.

“It’s difficult to give them permission to build a road in this area unless they make a thorough Environment Impact Assessment (EIS) and Social Impact Assessment (SIS),” Myeik-Dawei District Chairman Saw Gwe Htoo Win told Mizzima.

Local residents said 200 buildings for staff quarters, residential buildings, offices, and meeting halls have been built in the Dawei deep-sea port project site, which is near Mayingyi, Hteingyi and Mudu villages.

The sub-contractors on the project include the Dawei Development Co., a subsidiary of Max Myanmar owned by Zaw Zaw; Dawei Princess Co., owned by Khin Zaw Min, the brother of former Triangle Region Command Commander Khin Zaw Oo; Myanmar Original Group; Kanaung Asia; Yuzana Co., owned by Tanintharyi Region MP Htay Myint; and San Thit Co.

Upon the completion of the Dawei project, Thailand will be able to access the Middle East and Europe more quickly with an estimated savings of 20 per cent in transportation costs. Laos and Vietnam will also have quicker access to western countries through Thailand and the Indian Ocean.

The DDA is trying to organize an awareness campaign on the pros and cons of the project among local residents in Dawei. The group said it would send open letter signed by more than 600 local residents to President Thein Sein and the Human Right Commission calling for closer scrutiny and more green development.

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