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Htone Bo villagers demand Asia World Company give back their land

Htone Bo villagers have demanded that the Shwe Energy (Asia World) Company allow them to work in their lands in the project area of the Thauk Ye Khat 2 hydro-power-dam that is now producing electricity.

The Htone Bo village, 14-miles from Taungoo Town, had been relocated due to the construction of the Thauk Ye Khat Dam. Villagers claim that they will not benefit from the electricity produced from the dam as the company plans to sell it to other areas.

A villager from Htone Bo spoke to Karen News about their claims.

“We have made our demands peacefully. We only ask for lands that we own. Without our own land, our children have to work as daily laborers and we face increasing difficulties making a living. We want our land back as soon as possible.”

Htone Bo villagers say the lands they want back were taken by the company to use for housing its workers, for shops and its offices during the construction of the dam. Now that the project is completed, villagers are concerned that company workers will continue living on the land.

Saw Paw Htoo, administration chief of Htone Bo village, told Karen News.

“Relocated villagers couldn’t find proper jobs over the last six years. Now that the project has finished, we would like to work our land again. Our lands are good land and produce good crops.”

According to sources close to Karen National Union officials in the Taungoo District, the KNU plans to negotiate with officials from the Shwe Energy Company on behalf of the Htone Bo villagers.

Karen News contacted Shwe Energy Company for its response to the villagers’ claims, but was informed that there was no official available to comment on the issue.

The Shwe Energy (Asia World) company had earlier said that it had paid almost two-billion-kyat compensation in September last year and promised to build a new ‘model’ Htone Bo village – villagers claim that the company has yet to deliver on its promise.

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