Mega project impacts on life of local people (news feature)

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There are full of gun-smoke on other side of Hsipaw town, where is the root of famous “Twilight Over Burma” movie. 

People have automatically felt that they are not safe on Namtu road, where 10 minutes away from Hsipaw town by car.

Gas Pipeline 2
Gas Pipeline through northern Shan state

No driver wants to go on that road because clashes frequently occur on that road. 

EAO soldiers wearing camouflage uniform and Burma army’s soldiers can be seen on that road. 

We can also see signboards, writing “gas pipeline passes this area”, along that road. 

Shwe gas pipeline is connected between coastal area of Rakhine state and China through Shan mountains. 

Burma army and TNLA forces as well as RCSS and TNLA forces have had clashes in the area along the gas pipeline. 

“Outside of Hsipaw town is recognized as brown or black area. We can not be safe when we pass Mo-Tay bridge. Everything is possible (problem can occur at anytime),” Nang Mwe Nom Leng, who lives in Hsipaw town, told SHAN. 

According to Nang Mwe Nom Leng, Shwe gas pipeline passes that area. There is a gas-control station in the area too. 

Nang Mwe Nom Leng said that local people have suffered a lot including losing their farmland because of this Shwe gas pipeline. 

“Both Burma army and EAOs have actively movements in this area. They frequently clash in this area. I have never heard that Shwe gas pipeline was hit by clashes,” Nang Mwe Nom Leng added. 

According to local people, Shan and Ta’ang people have had inter-ethnic tension and disunity among themselves after completion of Shwe gas pipeline construction. 

Sai Hsur, who lives in Mansan, said that clashes have been occurred in the area after completion of Shwe gas pipeline construction. 

Local people in Mo-Tay, Pan-Thapyay, Pang Lon, and Mansan villages are living with fear. 

Even though there have been many clashes between Burma army and EAOs as well as among EAOs, Shwe gas pipeline has never hit. 

Gas Pipeline 1
Gas Pipeline through northern Shan state

“We are afraid of both Burma army and EAOs in this area. Situation is very complicated. For instance, if Shan people see Palaung, Shan people are afraid of Palaung. At the same time, if Palaung people see Shan, Palaung people area afraid of Shan. There is no trust among ethnic people,” Lon Shwe, who lives in Pang Lon village, told SHAN. 

Many farms were seized when Shwe gas pipeline was built. According to locals, farmers are difficult to make agriculture farm near the Shwe gas pipeline. 

In addition, clashes frequently occur in the area. There is no regional stability in the area. As consequences, local people have leaved their farm for going to work in China. 

“Only children and old-age (ages) people are left in our village. We can not work in this area because clashes frequently occur in this area. Therefore, it’s really difficult to work in paddy field,” Pa Awng (Daw Awng), who lives in Mongmu village, told SHAN. 

Most young people in the area are going to work in neighboring China. 

Some local people got compensation for their seizure farmland when constructing the Shwe gas pipeline but some people didn’t get any compensation for their farmland. According to Ta’ang Legal Aid, local people have suffered social impacts too. 

“Gas pipeline has passed through some gardens and paddy fields. The soil can not be fertile. Local people are afraid of explosion of gas pipeline. There are many negative impacts including drug problem. Burma army has extended their army camps along the pipeline,” Mai Myo Aung, who is working for Ta’ang Legal Aid, told SHAN. 

According to Mai Myo Aung, Burma army uses to extend their army camps for security reason before a certain project is going to start. 

Many local people said that they have lost their farmlands since construction of Shwe gas pipeline. This project is useless for them. They don’t get any benefits from this project. 

“Ta’ang people have suffered a lot when the start of this Shwe gas pipeline project. Our people haven’t got any benefit from this project. Chinese and Burmese government agreed to build this pipeline without desire (wishes) of local people,” Mai Myo Aung told SHAN. 

Nang Kham Aye, who is parliamentarian for Namtu township, demanded on government to share (give) profits (of Shwe gas pipeline) with Shan state government in 2017. 

Dr. Tun Naing, who is deputy minister of electricity and energy, replied that it’s impossible to share 5% of profits of this project because government needed to return the loan to China. 

MOGE took 86.16 million Euro loan from China Development Bank for this Shwe gas pipeline project. This mega project began in 2010. It took 3 years to complete the construction of Shwe gas pipeline.

MOGE needed to return 103.64 million Euro of both loan and interest to China. 

Even though gas is exported to China through this Shwe gas pipeline, local people, who live along this pipeline, are living with fear of military tension and military clashes as well as local people have faced many hardship for daily survival. 

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