Villagers Affected By Asian Highway To Be Paid

The Burma government and a Thai company have agreed to pay compensation to farmers for damaging or taking their land while building the Asian Highway network link between Myawaddy and Kawkareik in Karen State.

Saw Maw Htoo, Chairperson of the Karen National Union Kawkareik Township office, told Karen News that the KNU, Burma government, and company representatives held a meeting last week to discuss compensation, and the Burma government and the company agreed to pay compensation to locals whose land was stolen or damaged as a result of highway-related construction.

Speaking to Karen News, Saw Maw Htoo said.

“We [KNU] met with the state government and the company at the general administration office in Kawkareik town and discussed the effects of [the] damage to local residents. The government will pay compensation of 1.5 million kyat ($US 1,522) for one acre, while the company will pay 500,000 kyat ($US 507), totaling two million kyat ($US 2,029) for one acre.”

Mahn Hla Myaing, a member of parliament from Constituency No. 1 of northern Kawkareik Township in Karen State confirmed that farmers who lost their lands will be paid compensation.

Although funds have been earmarked for compensation, government authorities are still assessing damage claims, Mahn Hla Myaing said. The government and KNU representatives are scheduled to meet with local residents again after damage claim assessments have been made.

“The state allocates the compensation budget at one acre for 1,500,000 kyat. The budget has been transferred, and the claims are being processed. Afterwards, KNU representatives have to meet the residents again. The residents will be paid in cash directly after they provide their signature,” Mahn Hla Myaing said.

Some residents affected by the highway construction have greeted the compensation plan with enthusiasm.

“It is acceptable if there is compensation for the land we lost. This amount is much better than getting nothing. The farmers will have the money for investment,” said Nan P’ leh, a resident from Chaung-Taung in Kawkareik Township, who lost land to the highway construction.

Local sources said that the See Sang Company from Thailand built more than a 45kilometer stretch of the Asia Highway spanning from Myawaddy to Kawkareik. The construction of the route affected the livelihoods of more than 50 people and traversed more than 60 acres of paddy.

Asian Highway 1 forms a continuous overland route from Tokyo to the Turkish-Bulgarian border, and construction of sections in Southeast Asia have been subsidized by the Asia Development Bank. Although work on the highway between Myawaddy and Kawkareik was temporarily halted in 2005, the project resumed following the November 2012 preliminary ceasefire agreement between the Burma government and KNU. The project is slated for completion by April, 2014.

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