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Published on Saturday, 28 July 2012 21:15
An MP from the ruling party categorically said that it is not possible to return the farm lands to the farmers as they have been sold out to industrialists and for housing development.
The MP rebutted the accusation spreading through the media that companies are confiscating farmlands with intent to establish industrial zones and implement housing projects.
Dr Khin Shwe, an Amyotha Hluttaw representative from Yangon Region Constituency No (9), made his refutation in his discussion over a proposal made by other MPs to probe into farmland confiscation cases. The proposal to reconsider before the law to guarantee that there are no losses and grievances for farmers was made at a regular parliamentary session held in Nay Pyi Taw on 23 July.
He said that around 1997, the Department for Human Settlement and Housing Development paid compensation of K 10,000 per acre to farmers for over 2,000 acres of land of Mingaladon Garden City.
He continued that the Zaygaba Company, after coordinating with the farmers several times, paid compensation of K 300,000 per acre for over 800 acres of lands where Industrial Zone No (4) would be built. The farmers then abandoned the farmlands and the company started building infrastructure. Only when the infrastructural construction had completed by around 80 percent, did the farmers claim back the right to run those farmlands through local and foreign journals at the instigation of a political party. As the farmlands have been changed for industrial purpose, it is impossible to turn them back into farmlands to return to farmers.
He added that the establishment of the Industrial Zone No (4) was permitted at different administrative levels by the State Peace and Development Council, Ministry of Construction, Yangon Region Government and Human Settlement and Housing Development Department. It is the wrong accusation that companies are confiscating farmlands to establish industrial zones and implement housing projects.
Zaygaba Company, which Dr Khin Shwe owns, negotiated with farmers from more than 1000 acres of farmlands at plot No (531/533) in Shwe Nantha Village-tract, Mingaladon Township, for an industrial zone extension project in 2010, asking them to sign an agreement that they would abandon their farmlands for compensation of K 50,000 per acre.
The farmers complained that they did not agree on the payment. Subsequently, the company called the farmers individually on a daily basis and threatened to forcibly seize their farmlands if they would not abandon for compensation of up to K 300,000 per acre.
Farmer U Kyaw Sein, who has been working on 57 acres of land on Zaygaba Industrial Zone Section (4) of Shwe Nantha Village, said, “In May 2010, the farmers received Ks 300,000 each as compensation for one acre of farm land. At that time, the chairman of Zaygaba Company told us that we are allowed to continue cultivation on these farm lands. Later, the company barred us to cultivate on the lands. They broke down the paddy dykes and blocked the inflow of water channels by using heavy machinery. The General Administration Department has given out the permission to Zaygaba Company to engage in farmlands."
In the petition of the 64 peasant farmers submitted to the President in February 2012 unveiled the facts that in April 2010 the company paid out only Ks 300,000 as compensation for one acre of land that was worth Ks. 2 million in the prevailing land market. The company settled Ks 240 million for 815 acres of land.
As the land use had become complicated, the General Administration Department in Yangon North District of Yangon Region issued intimation on 23 December 2011 to the effect that legal action would be taken against the Zaygaba Company as it is tantamount to destroying the farm land for switching the cultivable land into industrial zone without proper authorization.
In other land utilization case, Shwetaung Company had taken up over 100 acres of farm lands in Atwin Padan area of Hlinetharyar Township in Yangon Region owned by 16 farmers in 2005 and erected fences around the lands. Then the company turned the land into industrial zone. In May 2012, the company compensated Ks eight million to each farmer for one acre of land, subsequently amicable settlement was reached between the farmers and the company.
Over the years, as the price of lands have sky-rocketed exorbitantly, the one land plot in Mingalardon Industrial Zone worth Ks 10 million in the year 2000 rose to Ks 100 million in 2012.