Karen Villagers Demand Compensation For Land Losses Caused By Cement Factory

Farmers have demanded compensation for their land confiscated and for losses of land to mining and a cement factory in Hlakar village track, in Hpa-an, Karen State.

The Hlakar farmers held a meeting in the village on September 12 that decided to present their five-point demands through the Member of Parliament, Daw Nan Say Awa, from the Phalon Swaw Democratic Party (PSDP). The farmers want compensation from the owner of the cement factory for their losses. The meeting was attended by as many as 200 farmers, including elders of the community and MP Daw Nan Say Awa.

Nan Say Awa who attended the village meeting said.

“I will present the farmer demands to Hlutttaw [Parliament]. I cannot guarantee all their demands will be accepted. I can only guarantee that I can bring the public voices into the Hluttaw.”

The villagers five demands are 1. To the confiscated farmlands return, 2. To recognize that the No.143 Zayet Phyu primary school’s compound now located in the 4,000-ton cement factory mining area as official school land, 3. To reconstruct the road between Zayet Phyu and Hlakar villages that was damaged by the factory’s bulldozers, 4. To provide electricity to Ye Kyaw village that was forcibly relocated because of the 4,000-ton cement factory, and 5. To be paid compensation for all land losses and to be allowed to work the remaining farmland.

The mining for the cement factory near Hlakar village has affected 689.33 acres. This includes land confiscated and lands that are now unusable for cultivation.

Speaking to Karen News, a resident Naw Ah Dah said.

“Rocks have been spread by the mining of the mountain – sometimes we have to avoid the rocks while we are planting paddy. Some rocks are as heavy as eight kilograms.”

The resident said even though people want to cultivate their farmland, they have worry about dynamite that is used in the mining, as there are no warning signs or security alarms in the area.

The villagers’ letter demanding compensation is the second time villagers submitted a complaint and demanded compensation for their losses caused by the mining. The first complaint was made on June 16, 2013, but the relevant officials failed to show up or deal with the issue. There are seven villages in Hlakar village track in Hpa-an Township and 4,000 ton cement factory nearby Hlakar village was built in 1997.

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