Tanintharyi villagers demand end to palm-oil project

Tanintharyi mountain villagers have demanded that the Myanmar Stark Prestige Plantation Company (MSPP) suspend its plans to cut down their forests and seize their land to open palm-oil plantations.

They claim they are suffering from severe water problems and a scarcity of cultivable land.

Villagers from the lower reaches of the Tanintharyi River in Myeik District have requested the managing director of MSPP suspend operations until the government takes the necessary steps.

“Our villagers suffer because of MSPP. We have reported it to both KNU [Karen National Union] and the company. But they didn’t respond. Thirty-seven villagers lost 1,300 acres of farmland. A bulldozer blocked the Bawksanwin River on which we rely for drinking water. A bulldozer is also destroying the forest owned by our villages. When asked, they said there were allowed to do it by the KNU,” said Saw Myint Soe from Theinbyin village.

“They said they were given 2,000 acres of land by KNU and 42,200 acres by the government. We want the authorities to study the situation and solve the problem.”

A letter was sent to the MSPP office in Myeik town on May 12.

The copies were sent to the Tanintharyi Region chief minister, the parliamentary Speaker and the regional ceasefire joint monitoring committee.

Saw Maung Htwe from Sanway village said the village stream was infested with insecticide.

More than 30 cattle and 20 goats were killed while crops failed, he added.

“Members of the KNU held a meeting to organize us. They gave us a compensatory payment of about K30, 000 per acre for the damaged plantations. It is unfair. Some refused the compensation,” said Saw Maung Htwe.

Aung Min Thu, MSPP public relations chief at the Myeik office, said the managing director would clarify the situation in detail. He said MSPP had dug eight tube wells to provide water to the villages and water was being transported there free of charge.

Source: Eleven Myanmar

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