Angry Thilawah Special Economic Zone (SEZ) residents and land-owners are preparing to take legal actions against the divisional government over compensation.
“The Yangon divisional government informed us to wait for a week on August 23. They assured us that they would negotiate the best offer. We would contest a legal suit if they do not do anything”, said U Soe Myint, a resident farmer.
U Sett Aung, Chairman of the Zonal Committee had announced on August 21, at a Public Meeting held in the Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development in Than Lyin Township, that fixed compensation will be paid to residents of Thilawah SEZ in October and landowners dissatisfied with the compensation will have to contest a legal suit with the divisional government.
He also pointed out that compensation will be paid only for crops and land is not included in the compensation plan.
“We have officially announced fixed compensation rates for crops to the residents. But we will not pay compensation for land that has been nationalized in the last twenty years. The land-owners can discuss compensation for land after they establish ownership through a legal suit against the government council in Yangon Division”, said U Sett Aung.
The fixed compensation to be paid to residents who work and live within the project area is a 20/40 feet land plot, MMK 2.5 million to build a house or a 16/20 feet wooden house, resettlement expenses and crop-compensation for five years.
Farmers who own 10 acres of active farmlands will get MMK 17.6 million if the farm is cultivated once a year and MMK 30 million if they are cultivated twice, as crop compensations.
The residents dissatisfied with the compensation said that they will take legal actions against the government council since the compensation plan is only for crops and does not take farmlands into account.
“According to the compensation plan, a farmer who owns 10 acres of farmed crops will receive MMK 17.6 million if he grows annually harvested crops. How will we restart our work? The current price for our farmlands is about MMK 15 million per acre. They told us that they will provide jobs but it takes time to construct buildings and launch businesses. How are we going to make a living before that? This is the reason why the residents want to contest a legal suit against the government council”, said Ko Aye Tun, a farmer.
“It is the responsibility of the Yangon Division Government Council to settle land ownership issues and decide whether or not to provide compensation. The Zonal Committee can only relay information. There are also people who have already received compensation but are dissatisfied happy with compensation rates”, said U Sett Aung.
The vexed residents are waiting for the Zonal Committee's response before they begin a legal suit against the government.
The MoU for the Thilawah SEZ project was signed between Myanmar and Japan on May 25, during the Japanese Prime Minister's visit to Myanmar.
A Myanmar public company formed by 9 private companies signed agreements with 3 private Japanese companies, Mitsubishi, Marubeni and Sumitomo. The project will be carried out in 3 steps.
The first step of the project will provide compensation to 79 families in villages such as Alwan Soot, Phalan, Shwe Pyi Thar, Tayar Kone and Kayet Thida Myaing, which are within the distance of 396 hectares from the project area.