Lao villagers told to relocate from an area used for rock-blasting by a Chinese company are refusing to move, saying the compensation they are being offered is much less than what was originally promised, sources say.
Ten families in the Naheung village of Vientiane province’s Hin Heup district were initially told they would be paid 250 million kip (U.S $28,237) each for moving away from the blast zone and a road used by the company to transport rocks, village sources say.
But the offered payout has now shrunk in the hands of local authorities to 80 million kip (U.S.$9,036), one villager told RFA’s Lao Service in a recent interview, adding that only one of the 10 families has accepted the lower amount so far.
“The company said it would pay the villagers through the village head, who they said would give the villagers either 250 or 200 million kip [per family], but the village head has said he won’t distribute that amount,” RFA’s source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Reached for comment, the village leader said that 250 million kip had never been offered, and that 200 million kip was the amount proposed as compensation. He declined to answer when asked why villagers were saying that 80 million kip was now the amount on offer, though.
Speaking to RFA, a Naehung villager said that the nine families holding out for full payment would accept 200 million kip compensation if the larger amount of 250 million kip could not be arranged, but that 80 million kip was too low.
RFA attempts to contact the Chinese Rock Grinding Company, which breaks up rock for use by construction firms and other business concerns, for comment this week were unsuccessful.
Laos often comes under criticism for land grabs in which authorities seize land from people for development projects without paying them fair compensation for lost crops, property, and livelihoods.
Rights groups say the illegal appropriations violate basic human rights and that such land grabs are a major cause of social tensions in Laos and in neighboring countries in Southeast Asia.
Reported and translated by Sidney Khotpanya for RFA’s Lao Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.