Farmers in Mon State’s Ye township want compensation after they say their fields and crops were seized by a private electricity company installing utility poles and cables.
“Five utility poles were erected on my farm. I lost around 45 bushels of paddies. They didn’t ask for permission before doing it,” said U Soe Win, a farmer from Ye township’s Aung Mingalar ward. “I want compensation for my land and crops.”
Over 60 bushels of paddy were allegedly damaged after Southeast General Energy & Power Co. Ltd. (SEGEP) installed 13 utility poles across Wal Kyaw Kwin paddy fields in Ye township. The façade of a house inside the railway yard was also damaged, according to the ward administrative office.
“Five farmers and one house owner have suffered damage. We told [the company] to stop after learning about the damage. But no one from the company came to see us,” said U Zaw Myo Min, the Aung Mingalar ward administrator.
“We will alert the township administrator. If we still can’t get [compensation], we will apply to higher authorities. In my opinion, [the company’s] action went over the line,” he added.
SEGEP managing director U Maung Maung Myint disputed the administrator’s representation of events, however. He said his company met with local administrators on December 1 to discuss paying compensation for damaged crops. According to U Maug Maug Myint, the new utility poles are part of a plan to distribute electricity to Chaung Taung, Ka Lawt, Han Gan, Sin Ku, and Kawt Hlaing villages beginning next month.
“When sufferers make complaints because [development projects] affect their homes or interests, we negotiate for them. We tell them to sue if it’s necessary,” said Ye township administrator U Tin Nyunt, citing the example of Ahzin villagers who received compensation for trees cut down to build electricity poles.
Ye is Mon State’s only township not connected to the national power grid. Ye town and village residents receive electricity supplied by the Myat Thura Company at a cost of K450 per unit. Fuel oil electrification efforts underway by SEGEP and Bedok Co. in Ye township may bring costs down to K200-300 per unit.