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As natural gas began flowing from Burma’s western coast to energy-hungry China earlier this week, activists from NGOs claim that local populations are still being sidelined by the project’s developers.
The watchdog group Myanmar-China Pipeline Watch Committee is calling on the Burmese government to renegotiate the contract in order to provide the state with a higher percentage of the pipeline’s profits.
During a press conference in Mandalay on Sunday, the activists called on the government to provide citizens who have had their land appropriated by the project with proper compensation.
The committee also asked for increased transparency with regards to the use of the profits from the project, and they encouraged the government to direct the funds towards development in rural areas.
The activists added that they were concerned about the pipeline’s environmental and safety record.
China has signaled that their officials will be keeping a close eye on their southern neighbor as the pipeline goes operational and Burma continues to reach each to western countries after decades of international isolation.
Earlier this month, the Burmese government forced the controversial Chinese-backed copper mine in Latpadaung to hand over a larger share of it profits to the Burmese state.
The renegotiated contract came after extensive protests from local population, who claimed that thousands of acres of their land had been commandeered by the mine without compensation.