Kyauk Taw: Many farmers in Arakan have become landless after their farmlands were confiscated without compensation by authorities for the railroad, said farmers.
At least 3,000 farmlands have been lost by local farmers in Mrauk U and Kyauk Taw Township for the railroad, but they have not been given either other lands nor financial compensation from the government for their lost land.
A 65-year-old farmer from a village in Kyauk Taw said, "I would like to die if possible because one and a half acres out of my total two acres of farmland were lost to the recent railroad construction. I am unable to carry out my family's survival with the remaining half acre of farmland. I have seven members in my family, and most are grandchildren."
The government is now constructing a railroad from Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State, to Ann Town and a major military base there, to be connected with Burma proper through the Burmese town of Min Bu.
The military government has propagated through the state-owned media, including TV, radio, and newspapers, that the railroad is intended for the development of Arakan State and to improve communications in the region.
A retired teacher from Tha Yet Ta Pin Village said, "The railroad is built by the government for Arakan State's development, but now the local people of Arakan are suffering with the confiscation of their farmland by local authorities for the railroad. We welcome the railroad construction in the state, but we oppose the land confiscation without any compensation."
The Arakanese farmers have lost many farmlands over the last few years for the highway that runs between Sittwe and Rangoon. Authorities have confiscated many acres of land from local farmers for the highway without compensation. The military has also been confiscating land for the nearly 60 battalions and military bases currently stationed in Arakan State.