Thursday, April 28, 2011

Villagers Forced to Fund Embankment Construction

Mray Bon: Villagers in some cyclone-affected areas of Arakan State have been forced by local authorities to contribute money for reconstruction of embankments that were destroyed by Cyclone Giri last year, report villager sources.

Villagers-Forced-to-Fund-Embankment-Construction The photo for the story of Villagers Forced to Fund Embankment Construction
One source said that the village authority has forced villagers to pay 3,000 kyat for each acre of paddy farm they own in the area.

A villager from Taung Rin Village in Kyauk Pru Township said, "Village authorities have collected 3,000 kyat per acre of paddy farm from farmers to reconstruct embankments. We are facing difficulties at the moment with payment, which has been forcibly collected by local authorities."

The government failed to provide a budget for the embankment reconstruction in cyclone-affected areas, and local authorities have turned to collecting money from farmers to fund the work.

When Cyclone Giri struck the Arakan coast last year, a number of embankments, which were constructed to prevent salt water from entering paddy fields, were damaged in the heavy waves.

Farmers in some villages in Kyauk Pru Township - Taung Rin, Kayin Daw, Kular Ban Taung Wra, Prin Pry, and Nga La Pwe - have had to pay the village authorities for reconstruction of the embankments.

"We have many problems after the cyclone struck our area. We do not have adequate food, we have no homes, and we can not send our children to school. During this time the authority has forcibly collected money from us for the embankment construction. We don't want to contribute the money but we have to pay it to authorities," he said.

The village authorities have also intimidated farmers into withdrawing their rights of cultivation on farms if they fail to pay the money.

Some farmers in the area are unable to contribute the amount asked for by authorities, and have had to sell off parts of their farm acreage in order to get the money for the embankment construction, the source added.

Many farmers in the cyclone-affected areas want the embankment reconstruction to be completed before rainy season so they can cultivate paddy, but the government has failed to complete construction.

U Aye Tha Aung, secretary of the Arakan League for Democracy as well as secretary of the CRPP, told Narinjara over the phone recently after he visited some Giri-affected areas of Arakan that many embankments in the area are still ruined and without proper reconstruction.

He said, "The construction of some embankments are completed but not up to the previous standard and position. Some embankments are actually needed to be six feet high to prevent salt water from intruding, but they are only 3 feet high. Many embankments remain without any reconstruction work started even though the rainy season will come next month."

The government announced a parliamentary session for questions and answers last month that 65 percent of damaged embankments in Arakan State were already reconstructed.
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