Environmental sensitivity and socio-economic responsibility are being emphasized as essential elements of the growing industrialization accompanying development in Myanmar. Adherence to a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy ensures that development projects take full account of the needs of communities impacted. It includes housing, education, health care, community development, water and electricity supplies, land for cultivation and livelihood safeguards. Where relocation is necessary, CSR rules cover the acquisition of land, construction of housing and public buildings and the award of compensation. In the context of an urgent need to increase the supply of electricity, the implications of CSR policy for hydro-power projects are considered and objectives for a land acquisition and resettlement plan listed.
There follows a case study of the application of CSR policy in the 140Mw Upper Paunglaung Hydro-power Project in central Myanmar. The 98 meter high concrete dam, associated infrastructure and reservoir area (2,540 km²), impacted a population of 9,755 living in 22 villages. Commencing in 2013, in consultation with the concerned villagers, detailed resettlement and compensation plans were agreed (in line with CSR and World Bank policy). They included the design of new housing, public buildings and village infrastructure, with water and electricity supplies. Assistance with relocation and support for the restoration of livelihoods such as credit facilities, job training and prepared cultivation land was also provided. In addition to nationwide economic improvement, the extra power supplied by the Project benefits local industrialization such as mining, and a follow-up socio-economic survey provides input for the design of on-going government assistance within the provisions of CSR Policy.
According to CSR sector policy on the completion of the activities included in the Upper Paunglaung Hydropower Project Resettlement and Land Acquisition Arrangement Plan, further assessment was needed to determine the extent to which the personal incomes and standards of living of settlers was improved or at least restored. This assessment was largely accomplished through a follow-up socioeconomic survey. The survey results helped in determining the need, if any, for follow-up efforts; it also provided a useful basis for designing them. The Ministry continued to supervise the resettlement program, beyond project completion. Resettlement practice, with regard to CSR activities, had evolved significantly within the Ministry through the experience and suggestions of its resettlement staff and the knowledge gained from other lending, resettlement, practitioner, academic, and research organizations. It also provided the basis for the development of options for the implementation of a Resettlement Policy Framework, with regard to CSR activities, that is used for environmental and social screening, and assessment of hydropower project components which are funded within the CSR policy framework.
About the Author:
Dr. Mie Mie Kyaw is an Assistant Lecturer at the Department of Zoology, University of Pathein, Ministry of Education, Myanmar. She is one of the ASEAN-U.S. Science and Technology Fellows. Her last professional experience was doing an “Assessment of the ecological effects of the Yeywa hydropower dam” in Myanmar.