Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – About 150 rubber plantation owners have protested against cement factory companies in Kyaikmaraw Township, Mon State, after they could not agree to the amount of compensation given by the companies for their farmland.
The Zaykabar Company, which is owned by MP Khin Shwe of the Union Solidarity and Development Party, seized 830 acres of land in Nidone village and paid a compensation rate of 350,000 kyat (US$ 467) per acre, farmers said. The John Company seized 140 acres of farmland and rubber plantations in Kawdun and Kawpanaw villages and paid compensation varying from 15,000 to 300,000 kyat (US$ 20-400). The landowners could not accept the compensation, they said, saying it was below the current market price.
According to the landowners, a fair price for their land varies from 800,000 to 3 million kyat (US$ 1,067-4,000) per acre. A rubber plantation could fetch up to nearly 10 million kyat, they said.
About 50 farmland owners have protested against the amount of compensation given by the Zaykabar Company, and 100 rubber plantation owners have protested against the compensation given by John Company.
“We coordinated with each other not to accept the compensation they gave. Only a few of us accepted their compensation because their land was not fertile. We cannot give away our land to them. They can get our land if they can give the compensation we want,” a farmer from Kawdun village who owns 10 acres of farmland told Mizzima.
However, MP Khin Shwe told Mizzima, “We have already given compensation to 90 per cent of these farmers. All of them have signed the papers and only about 10 out of a total of 100 farmers (whose farmlands were seized) are left to sign.”
He said the land was not good for rice cultivation and they acquired the land for local development.
The Human Rights Foundation of Mon State (HURFOM) said that 69 farmers out of total 100 from Nidone village had accepted compensation from the Zaykabar Company and the rest had not yet accepted.
A farmer from Kawpanaw village with four acres of farmland said that his land was fertile for cultivation and the yield was 80 baskets of paddy for summer rice and 60 baskets of groundnut. “Their compensation is not adequate for this fertile land,” he said.
Under a system that gives farmers no right to own their land, they are only entitled to cultivate the land by renting, and there are frequent controversial cases of the forcible acquiring of land by cronies of the government.
Two cement factories that would produce 1,000 tons daily each will be built in Kyaikmaraw Township, Mon State. The Zaykabar Company has started its project, which will cost US$ 220 million and take three years to be completed. The project of the John Company has not yet started. A company source said that the Zaykabar cement factory could manufacture 66,000 bags (3,300 tons) of cement daily.
Similarly, a company called 24-Hour General Services is conducting coal mining exploration work in Pya Taung (between Pauktaw and Kwanngan), local residents said.
Companies that are involved in building the cement factories are Max Myanmar, Htoo, Kanbawza, Shwe Taung, G-4, Asia World, IGE, Yuzana, John, Sun Lin International, Jade Land, Myanmar Kaung Tone, Myanmar Naing, YIG, Shan Yoma & Mine, Min Anawrahta, Ngwe Yee Pale, Tun Thwin Mining, Than Daw Myat and APC Link. There are currently about 14 cement factories in Burma, the “New Light of Myanmar” reported on August 4.