Community affected by Zone B Implementation in Thilawa SEZ

Community affected by Zone B Implementation in Thilawa SEZ October 29, 2019

The implementation of Thilawa Special Economic Zone B with 700 hectare of land including highways, electricity and water will begin this November after Zone A has 90 % completed of 400 hectares.

Local societies which inhabited in Zone B are Tamils, who are Dravidian ethnic group who speak the Tamil languages as their mother tongue and trace their ancestry to Southern India and north-eastern Sri Lanka. Many belong to Hinduism and their life has a deep link with farming and livestock.  Because of that, Zone B implementation would harmfully affect their lives as they have to move out from their land. Moreover, lack of fluency in the Burmese language of the Tamil community would add more challenges to demand adequate compensation.

Meanwhile there are ongoing discussions on resettlements however the worries of same problems might cause as Zone A relocated families such as insufficient compensation and no livelihood alternatives.

In Zone A, 68 families have already been relocated and resettled in the two areas which have encountered many serious issues. Local people have been coerced and forced to move to a relocation site that was barely inhabitable when they arrived. Moreover, they did not receive proper reimbursement for relocating. Because of this, they still had to live in a cramped house.They also were not given new land to farm and lost their livelihoods. This has made it difficult to send children to school, as some families struggle to afford tuition and transportation. Communities living in the remaining 2000 hectares have not been told how, where and how much property and payment they will be compensated once the project has impacted their area.

Paung Ku partner, Thilawa Social Development Group (TSDG ) has been determinedly working to address Zone A issues and currently helping with the Zone B community in order to prevent the negative impacts that occurred to Zone A’s displaced households. TSDG is not only collaborate with the Tamils but also organize women group to strengthen their calls to confront environmental and social abuses of the relocation package of Japanese International Cooperation Agency.

The Paung Ku’s Yangon team is now collaborates TSDG in the process and support the TSDG to network with Mekog Watch Group to address those problems.