Indian company in charge of Shwe Gas Project troubles local contractors

Kyauk Pru: India’s Punj Lloyd that is responsible for constructing pipelines in the Shwe Gas Project in Kyaukpru in southeastern Arakan State has been allegedly breaking its financial promises to local contractors over works ordered by them.

India workers at a construction site of Kyauk Pru.

One of the contractors told Narinjara that Punj Lloyd is still to make a large payment to them after ordering them to build a housing complex at a cost of 200 millions kyat and that its continuous delay has caused them great financial difficulties in their business.

“Punj Lloyd had ordered us to build a housing complex for its workers in Pyatae Village that is situated four-miles south of Kyaukpru at a cost of 200 million kyat. We have already built and handed over the complex to the company and its workers are living there now, but the company has paid only 40 million kyat and is still yet to pay the remaining 160 millions kyat, this has caused great financial difficulties for us in our businesses”, said the contractor.

He said they have requested many times for them to pay the outstanding money because of their financial difficulties, but the company has still declined to pay them with the reason that it has not received the money from its central office.

“The [company officials] gave us many reasons for their delay whenever we went and asked for the money to be paid. We do not know how to convince them of our difficulties and it is also difficult for us to take legal action against them because the Burmese authorities are protecting them in all matters”, he said.

A local truck owner also said the Indian company has been behaving in a similar fashion to the truck owners in the area as well. The company usually hires the local trucks for transporting their construction materials, but it never pay the transportation fares as per its promise after the job is done.

“There are so many truck owners who are owed respective debts from the Indian company in our area now. We never thought that such a big foreign company would behave to us like this and we completed our jobs based just on a verbal promise without making a contract. When we complained of the matter to our law enforcers, they also threatened us that we would be troubled if we sue the foreign company without concrete evidence”, said the truck owner.

According to the sources, the Indian company has perpetuated such violations on local businesses or peoples by taking advantage of the situation, in which the Burmese regime disregards the local rights or benefits in the Shwe Gas Project and it colludes with the foreign companies working on the project for their mutual benefit.

The local people have been suffering from various rights violations that include land confiscations and forced relocations since the project was started in their area.