Thilawa Update

All residents from Phase 1 of the Thilawa SEZ Development project have been resettled, but in spite of the many unresolved problems, preparations are being made to relocate the next 2000-hectare area.

During Phase 1, residents were greatly dissatisfied with both the resettlement process and compensation. Two years since relocation, there is still insufficient clean water supply, some families have left the relocation site, and some families are still in debt.

Will lessons learned from the Phase 1 area resettlement process be reflected in Phase 2? From what we are seeing so far, it seems many of the mistakes may be repeated.

Full EIA scoping reports not available in Burmese:

In January this year, EIA scoping reports for each of 3 subsections of the 700 ha area were disclosed. Both the summaries and full reports were disclosed in English, but in Burmese language, only summaries were provided.

At a meeting of JICA’s advisory committee, JICA was asked why the full reports were not disclosed in Burmese. JICA responded that it was not required by Myanmar law, and because JICA’s Guidelines also do not say that a summary of the EIA Scoping report is insufficient, there is no violation of JICA’s Guidelines.

Considering that residents in Phase 1 suffered enough to be compelled to file an official complaint to JICA, Mekong Watch is very disappointed by this response. JICA is well aware that the residents cannot read nor speak in English.

Only one copy of the reports for each village:

Once copy was sent to each village administrative office and made available for reading, but no one was allowed to take the document out of the office. With only one copy for all residents in each village, this is a significant obstacle for public comment.

Discrepancies in Translation:

There were differences in the English and Burmese language summaries. It is unclear which is the original, but the content should be the same, regardless. This problem needs to be addressed.

Timing of report disclosure and public comment:

For the EIA scoping consultations, the Logistic, Residence and Commercial Area of Zone B report was disclosed on January 18, and the deadline for public comment was January 31st. This was in spite of the fact that only English versions of the full reports were provided.

JICA knows from its experience with Phase 1 that strict monitoring is necessary to ensure and enable affected residents to fully participate in decision-making regarding how their lives will be impacted by the Thilawa SEZ. If Phase 2 is to go smoothly than Phase 1, JICA will need to be much more diligent than it currently is.

 

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