Twenty-one local farmers spurned a compensation ceremony in Kyaukphyu, Arakan State, on Thursday, when they arrived to find that the event was being staged to conclude the matter of damage to their farmlands without attempting to rectify the destruction.
Oil and gas firm China National Power Corporation (CNPC), which is the major investor in the Shwe Gas Pipeline project, is accused of ignoring an agreement that it would repair some 20 acres of land damaged by silt depositions during the pipeline construction.
Locals say that the CNCP last week invited all 21 affected residents to an event where it wanted to ceremoniously hand over more than 30 million kyat (US$25,000) in compensation. However, upon seeing notices proclaiming a ‘Ceremony Finalising Compensation’, the 21 landowners presumed the Chinese state-owned oil and gas firm was implying that it would no longer be responsible to repair the damaged lands, contrary to a previous agreement.
“The agreement in the contract with CNCP said the company will compensate us for the damage to crops, and also repair the damaged farmland,” said Kyi Kyi Hnin, a resident of Gonchain village. “But according to the terminology used at the event, the compensation provided would be final. This is unacceptable to us, and that is why we refused the cash.”
She added: “The [CNPC] representatives promised to repair the land, but we absolutely do not trust them, therefore we didn’t accept the cash.”
She said all 21 landowners at the 4 August event at the Kyaukphyu township administration office unanimously decided to decline the cash offer – a total of 31,482,500 kyat for all stakeholders of the 20 acres of farmland in question.
Tun Kyi works for the Rural Areas Development Association, a group that says it is assisting the 21 landowners in their fight for more compensation. He said that CNPC is trying to trick the local farmers.
“I do not like what they [CNPC] are doing — not one little bit,” he told DVB. “This is an attempt to trick the people, and it’s completely inappropriate.
“The company promised to fix the land covered by silt, but has done nothing. Now it is using terminology such as ‘finalising compensation’ without even negotiating with the landowners first.”
Beijing-based CNPC is the largest integrated energy company in China, and is the parent of PetroChina, the fourth largest company in the world in terms of revenue.
In 2005, it entered into a 30-year contract with the Burmese military regime to purchase natural gas from the Andaman Sea, and two years later agreed to build a gas pipeline and an oil pipeline running from Kyaukphyu, a coastal port on the Bay of Bengal, across Burma to Yunnan Province in southwestern China.
The Burmese section of the gas pipeline was completed on 12 June 2013; gas started to flow to China on 21 October 2013. The oil pipeline was completed in August 2014, but is yet to begin transferring oil to China.