Chinese state-owned oil firms occupying Myanmar territory in the wake of development projects

Naypyidaw [Myanmar], March 11 (ANI): The Chinese state-owned companies, during the implementation of the FDI in oil and gas project in Myanmar, have illegally acquired land by violating existing laws.

In a recent development, China, through its state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and South East Asia Oil Pipeline Co. Ltd. (SEAOP) and South East Asia Gas Pipeline Co. Ltd. (SEAGP), implemented the 2.5 billion dollar largest FDI investment in Myanmar, namely the Myanmar China Oil and Gas Pipeline (MCOGP).

The gas and oil pipeline started at Kyauk Phyu in Rakhine state and ended in Nam Kham, a northeast border town with China. The pipeline measured 30 meters in width for a distance of 793 km.

The Myanmar-China Pipeline Watch Committee (MCPWC), the only civil society organization in Myanmar dedicated to monitoring the Myanmar-China Oil and Gas Pipeline Project, in its research found that a large-scale foreign direct investment project in the country’s oil and gas sector generated environmental destruction and had a major social impact on the life and livelihood of Myanmar’s farmers.

The MCPWC had conducted field research in 100 villages and published a report in January 2016 explaining in detail issues of land use, corruption, damage to farmland and land compensation.

The MCPWC also met and discussed with the Natural Resource and Environmental Conservation Committee of the Upper House of Parliament. This Committee categorically stated that “the pipeline has been constructed dividing the country”.

The matter was discussed in the Parliament of Myanmar in December 2016. The then deputy minister of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy revealed that CNPC had acquired the land by paying direct compensation to the farmers. However, the transfer of land should have to be done through the Transfer of Immovable Property Restriction Act 1987, Foreign Investment Law (2012), and Farmland Law (2012).

According to the foreign investment law, the Myanmar-China pipeline project has the right to lease the land for the pipeline route from the Myanmar government through the long-term land lease agreement.

If the lands along the pipeline route are the agricultural lands owned by the Myanmar citizen farmers, according to the 1894 land confiscation law or Article 29 of the 2012 farmland law, the concerned ministry of the Myanmar government (at that time, Ministry of Energy) was the only government entity that was entitled to conduct land acquisition from the farmers.

As per the law, after taking the necessary lands from the farmers, the ministry had to enter into a legal process to change the land title from the farmlands to the other lands, according to Article 30 of the 2012 Farmland Law, or the old law’s Article 39.

Only after the title of the lands were changed, the ministry and the project operator CNPC-SEAP Company had to make a land lease agreement according to the foreign investment law and bylaw.

“Without implementing these steps, the MOEE allowed CNPC-SEAP to directly make an agreement with the Myanmar farmers, giving an excuse that it was because the company invested their money in the compensation and when signing these agreements, it used the term “on behalf of MOGE.”   Therefore, MCPWC analyzed that the agreements actually violated the above mentioned existing laws”, said a document.

Sources reveal that the Myanmar China Oil and Gas Pipeline project violated Myanmar’s existing laws because the Chinese company officials from the China-owned CNPC-SEAP made a direct agreement with individual Myanmar farmers to procure farmlands for the project.

The project violated Myanmar’s existing laws because it was implemented on the ground without legally changing the land title in accordance with the law.

The document said, “In the special cases in Kyaukpadaung and Ngaphe townships among the six townships where the research was conducted, the farmers do not receive any copies of the compensation agreement.   Thus, the farmers did not know whether the amount of compensation that they received was the same amount as it was shown in the agreements”.

The report also examined that the CNPC took no responsibility for post-construction requirements, namely soil erosion among the pipeline resulting in damage to water resources and environmental destruction.

In effect, as the land of 30 meters in width starting from the Myanmar western border to the Chinese border was acquired by Beijing, the country has been split into two, affecting Myanmar’s security and national interests adversely. (ANI)

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