The Kesi Township land management department has announced that they will seize more than 1,000 acres of land and allocate it for use by companies as long as there is no opposition from the locals in the area.
The land in question affects nine villages in Wan Wap village tract and 12 villages in Pan Saet village tract. The majority of it would be allocated to two companies—Attitude and Honesty Co. Ltd. and Nampan Development and Investment Co. Ltd.—to develop castor oil and flower plantations, and to be allocated as land for cattle grazing.
The deadline for any letters opposing the move is August 15.
While the land management department made the announcement on July 16, locals said that they weren’t aware of it until August 2.
They also said that they are aware of the companies’ plans for the area and have rejected any actions that would threaten their land.
“We are farmers. Representatives of the companies tried to get us to sign on in agreement, but the villagers did not sign. I didn’t sign onto it either,” headman of Pan Saet village tract Lurn Sai Tin told SHAN. “If we don’t have farmland, how can villagers can grow their crops? We do not agree it. We will send an opposition letter tomorrow,” he said earlier this week.
The two companies have applied to cultivate 300 acres each. They suggested that the land was “vacant and virgin.”
“They said that these lands were vacant and virgin lands. It’s not true. We grow crops here every year. We have rotating farms,” one farmer from Wan Wap said of the land that the companies have requested.
Three more individuals have reportedly applied for use of land in Kesi—including one Taunggyi-based man, who requested 350 acres, a Yangon-based man, who requested 50 acres, and a Lashio-based woman, who requested 50 acres.
Kesi parliamentarian Sai San Murng said that local opposition was to be expected, and could ultimately quash the plans to redistribute the land.
“Companies have applied for land from the government. We aren’t worried about it. If local people oppose it, companies cannot do anything. We will stand with the local people,” he told SHAN.
Parliamentarians, monks, village headmen, and 468 people from 21 villages in Pan Saet and Wan Wap village tracts held a meeting at Pan Saet monastery to address the issue on August 5 and agreed to oppose the attempt to take the land.
The land in question is located in territory controlled by the Shan State Progress Party (SSPP).
“The area they are claiming is located in the SSPP’s control area, so we expect that the SSPP’s leaders will help to resolve this land dispute,” the farmer from Wan Wap village tract said.
SHAN tried to call the SSPP for comment but had received no response at the time of reporting.
Recent news leaks have suggested that there are coal deposits in the area, but SHAN was unable to confirm whether this is true. Locals say that if coal extraction takes place, it will pollute water sources, such as streams, and rice paddies.