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Thailand and Burma have agreed to speed up the development of the Dawei Economic Zone, following talks between Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Burma’s parliamentary speaker Shwe Mann on Monday, the Bangkok Post reported.
Shwe Mann is on a five-day trip to Thailand, which will conclude on Thursday.
Yingluck reportedly told him that officials from various state enterprises were conducting an economic study on infrastructure in Dawei, such as transportation and power and water supply.
“Thailand and Myanmar [Burma] must work together to move this project forward and inform the public about the benefits of the Dawei deep-sea port,” the Thai premier is reported saying.
However, last week, villagers gathered to protest against the construction of a highway which will connect the Dawei special economic zone on the Andaman coast of Burma’s Tenasserim division to Kanchanaburi in Thailand.
According to a local civic group, Community Sustainable Livelihood and Development (CSLD), 38 families have still not been compensated for the loss of their land due to the highway construction between the towns of Thitgadon and Myitta in 2010.
“Therefore, on 9 September 2013, the affected villagers gathered at Thabyu Chaung Village to give an accurate answer to the compensation payment process,” CSLD said in its statement. “In order to obtain the public attention to their concern, the villagers detained three vehicles owned by the ITD on 9 September which [they later] released on 11 September.”
The civic group released a statement on 18 September calling on the industrial zone’s main developer, Italian Thai Development PLC (ITD), to respond immediately to the locals’ claims for compensation. However, to date, ITD has not replied nor did they respond to requests for comment from DVB.
CSLD said that in the process of constructing the Dawei-Kanchanaburi Highway since 2010, ITD has displaced 149 villagers or households, 111 of whom were paid compensation. The Thai construction firm has also destroyed many betel nut, rubber and cashew nut plantations, the main livelihoods of the local farmers, the group said.