By Takaloo, Pauktaw: Villagers in Pauktaw Township in western Burma’s Arakan State were allegedly forced by the police in-charge to work on emergency repairs to dams on a shrimp farm he owns a stake in after the dams were damaged in heavy rains on 3 July.
The earthen dams that had been constructed on the Ngawaswe Creek in Pauktaw Township for the shrimp farm were seriously damaged in the heavy rains and the villagers nearby had to work on rebuilding the dams without any payments, after being ordered to do so by the police in-charge in Arakan State, Ba Kyi, said one of the villagers who had to work on the dams.
“The police in-charge had ordered one head per household from the villages of Ngawaswe, Prein chaung, Hla Khine, Min Phauk, and Sethone Tan, must contribute labor for mending dams,” he said, adding that no villager was paid for their hard work.
Another villager said that most of the villagers are farmers who were already busy with their own paddy cultivation, and although they were unwilling to work on the dams, they had to for fear of punishment by the police official.
According to the villagers, the shrimp farming project in the area started in 2005, after Ngawaswe Creek, a tributary to the Kaladan River that villagers used to depend on, was blocked, and over 130 acres of common village grazing lands were confiscated.
The project is now owned by both Police In-Charge Ba Kyi and local shrimp trader U Kaung San Tun, at much expense to the locals, said villagers.