Myanmar port to displace 10,000 people: developer
THAILAND: The Thai industrial giant behind a controversial deep-sea port project in Myanmar said Wednesday that 10,000 people would have to leave their homes to make way for the development.
Friday 10 June 2011, 04:54AM
Ital-Thai Group is in charge of building and attracting investors to the Dawei Development Project, which is set to transform a sleepy strip of southern coastline with a deep-sea port and 250 square kilometres (100 sq mile) industrial estate.
The company confirmed the project would uproot local people, but insisted the villagers would be well catered for with new settlements.
"There is a population of only a little more than 10,000 people that have to be relocated," said Premchai Kanasuta, president of Italian-Thai Development, the subsidiary in charge of the project.
Concerns about human rights and the environment have been raised about the scale and nature of the port plans because of a lack of regulation in Myanmar, which remains military-dominated despite a new nominally-civilian parliament.
The 10-year, $8 billion project will include a steel mill, fertiliser plant, a coal-fired power station and oil refinery.
Local groups have suggested more than 20,000 people could be forced to move, while many fear Myanmar's history of human rights abuses in large infrastructure projects could repeat itself.
Htin Aung, who is working for the firm in the area, said the company was determined to be sensitive to local people.
He said villagers would only be moved once new homes have been built in six locations close the perimeter of the industrial site.
"We have been very careful about this, not only the environment but the social and cultural impact," he said.
New towns will include better sanitation, schools and monasteries and he said some villagers were seeing the benefits of new roads already being built in the remote area.
The race is on to build homes for all those to be relocated because "we have to move them out by July" when the rainy season will make building impossible.
Htin Aung said he hoped Dawei would be such a success that people from the area would have economic opportunities in Myanmar, rather than being lured to work in poor conditions in Thailand.