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A ceremony was held on Wednesday in Rangoon’s Thanlyin township as lots were drawn by local residents to give them substitute plots of land to compensate for those acquired to build the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
The event was hosted by representatives of the Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development at their office in Thanlyin. Sixty-eight residents drew lots for new plots of land on a replacement piece of real estate on 400 hectares of unused land nearby.
The event was part of a scheme to compensate hundreds of villagers for the more than 2,000 hectares that was confiscated for the first phase of the industrial zone project.
Than Than Thwe, the deputy-director of the department and joint-secretary of the Thilawa SEZ management committee, said the compensation that is being provided is in accordance with World Bank standards.
“The compensation scheme is based on three categories: house ownership, career and social welfare,” she said. “If the overall income of a family is below the poverty line, then we also hand out bags of rice.
“If the original land owner had a cow-breeding business on the land when it was confiscated, then we compensate with a cash payment equivalent to approximately three years’ profit as well as compensation for any losses made selling their cows,” she said.
“Rice farmers are compensated with an amount equal to six years’ profit. And for other crops, it is four years’ profit,” said Than Than Thwe, adding that employees forced to be absent from work during house relocations will be compensated with the same amount of pay they lost.
Than Than Thwe said that the residents who drew lots on Wednesday received 25 x 50 ft plots in Myaing Tharyar ward, located alongside the Thanlyin-Kyaukta Road. Houses – 12 x 16 ft – will be built on each plot, she said, and will be constructed with zinc sheet roofs and bamboo walls. They will also be offered 150,000 kyat (US$150) for relocation expenses.
She said the 400 hectares of land where the residents were evicted from was originally owned by the Department of Human Settlement and Housing Development which acquired it in 1997 after providing compensation to the previous owners. She said the current residents who are seeking compensation had come in from elsewhere.
Than Than Oo, a resident who received a substitute plot of land on Wednesday, said: “We are happy with the compensation since we didn’t own the land. I have no other comment.”
An MoU for the first phase of the Thilawa SEZ project, a joint-venture between Burma (51 percent) and Japan (49 percent) was signed by the governments of the two countries in May 2013. The SEZ is expected to include a port and factories, as well as car manufacturing plants owned by major Japanese automobile firms.