Vientiane Times, July 23, 2015
Displaced villagers affected by the Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone (SSSEZ) in the central province of Savannakhet will receive appropriate compensation, a senior government official has assured. Deputy Head of the Secretariat of the Lao National Committee for Special Economic Zones, Mr Khanty Lokaphone made the assurance on Tuesday at a press conference held at the National Assembly (NA) in response to a question raised by an affected villager.
The villager, through the NA hotline, asked for compensation. Mr Khanty explained that the compensation to be given out will vary depending on the category of the land and its location. In the case of the villager who called the hotline however, who has land in the SSSEZ’s Zone D which is a reservation forest area, compensation will be given only for crops, trees and dwellings or structures such as houses. The land itself will not be compensated for.
“Those whose lands are located inside Zone D will not be compensated for the lands because Zone D is a reservation forest area. The villagers had encroached the reservation forest area,” he said.
Those having lands elsewhere within other zones of the SSSEZ [not Zone D] with land titles will receive more compensation in accordance with relevant regulations including compensation for the land itself, he added. Zone D, with an area of 118 hectares on the reservation forest area, has long been encroached by local villagers who damaged the forest there for slash and burn cultivation and other activities. Some 400 families are now living within the bounds of Zone D. The villager claimed for compensation through the hotline following the government’s decision to grant a concession on 30 hectares within Zone D to the Kolao Group, an automotive dealer in Laos, which plans to build an automotive manufacturing plant there. Mr Khanty said Kolao Group has paid some supporting allowances to villagers affected by its project. He was unable to confirm when compensation for all affected villagers at the SSSEZ will be completely paid, saying that compensation will be made depending on when the investment project is approved and the land concession is granted. Information regarding the overall compensation cost for the whole SSSEZ is still unavailable. The compensation cost for the SSSEZ’s Zone A alone is estimated at US$18 million, according to Mr Khanty.