Around one hundred families in Burma’s northern Sagaing division have been told to relocate to make way for the extension of a nearby airport.
Residents of Kalay town in Sagaing division told DVB that local authorities are distributing compensation forms to those set for relocation. One man said that most residents were unhappy about moving, and complained that the compensation wouldn’t enable them to build a new house.
“Some huts [being relocated] will only be compensated 140,000 kyat [$US140],” he said. He added that families in two-storey houses would be compensated 1.7 million kyat ($US1,700), “and these days you can’t really build a two-storey house with that amount of money”.
He said that the residents were also concerned about the monsoon season and lack of fresh water, while parents didn’t want to move their children so soon after school opened.
Affected residents are being moved to a 35-acre patch of farmland near Taungpela village, close to Kalay. The man said that authorities were preparing the land for housing and roads without acknowledging its owners.
The area of farmland is owned separately by seven people whom the Burmese government offered compensation of one million kyat ($US1,000). The landowners however rejected the offer, claiming that one acre is valued at three million kyat ($US3,000). Despite this, one landowner said that authorities were going ahead with the preparation.
“We can’t buy new land with the amount of compensation they offered; it is 2.5 million kyat [$US2,500] for land suitable to grow crops,” she said. “We have submitted an appeal [to the government] to let us stay and work on this land. It is rainy season now and we should be scattering seeds.”
She added that there would be swathes of extra space on the land given that 116 houses would not fill 35 acres. “One acre of land can provide space for about 10 houses, so 35 acres will make about 350. [The authorities] will take the extra spaces,” she said.
The government first approached the Kalay locals over the relocation in 2007 but were continually rejected. But in April this year authorities began laying out red flags on the land to signify the area they would appropriate.