Farmers Refuse to Move for Dam Project

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Farmers are angry with the government because of plans to build a dam to divert water to Chin State’s capital, Hakha because it will inundate their farms if it is completed.

A November 24 statement by the farmers in the Nawi Valley said if the project goes ahead without their consent, the Chin State government will be seen as a “dictatorship”. Farmers say they refuse to be forced off the land they’ve been cultivating since 1920, and have already demonstrated their opposition to the dam.

The Chin State government estimates the Nawi Dam Project, planned at the confluence of three rivers, about a mile from the capital, will cost 2,000 million kyats ($154K). Construction is expected to start in January 2021 and take three years to complete.

Fer Chin Sung, a farmer from Nawi Valley, told Khonumthung News that Zo Bwi, the speaker for Chin State Parliament and other leaders, came to her home to invite her to come to his office. “I knew they wanted to pay me compensation for my agreement on the project, and that’s why I didn’t go.”

“Some farmers who were threatened to take money or lose their farms agreed to take compensation. But many farmers haven’t accepted compensation for their farmland.”

In the statement, farmers said they have too much to lose by accepting the deal. For decades, they grew rice, grazed livestock and established fishing ponds on the land.

Ko Andrew Tha Tuang, from Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountabilities (MATA) in Chin State, said because Burma adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2003, the government must inform locals about the impacts of a “regional development project” and get their agreement before construction commences. “I don’t see that the Chin state government has done that.”

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