Laos' Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad says that there will be no compensation for intruders and illegal occupiers of state land in the That Luang marsh area, and their structures or buildings will be removed from the area to clear the way for a Chinese investment group to take over.
Mr. Lengsavad, the Lao Standing Deputy Prime Minister, recently confirmed that the new urban development project to create a new residential area and business district for the capital city of Vientiane in the That Luang wetland is going ahead as planned and agreed upon in the accord signed with the Chinese real estate investment group. The project will be developed on an area of 1,000 hectares with a 50-year concession and will be fully implemented according to the original agreement.
Mr. Somsavat pointed out that, although there was a delay in project implementation in the past, that was due to flooding in Vientiane in 2008, which prompted the Chinese company to conduct a study on how to prevent the project area from flooding, thus delaying the project. Once this study is completed, the 1,000-hectare wetland area will be handed over to the Chinese company in exchange for its help in building a new stadium, at a cost of more than $100 million, for Laos to use as the main venue for the 25th SEA Games it hosted on December 9-18.
Before doing so,
the Lao government has to relocate residents and remove buildings from the wetland area by providing full compensation and assistance to legal owners of the land. Those who have been living illegally on the land, however, will
have to move and their buildings or structures will be dismantled without any
Nonetheless, according to some sources, the new urban development project was delayed in the past due to the unwillingness of residents to relocate as they found that they would not be adequately compensated for their land and buildings. While the residents believe that they should receive no less than $100 per square meter for their land, the Lao government will pay them only $20 per square meter. As a result, thousands of households have refused to relocate.
Pongern reported from Bangkok on 22 January, 2010. Listen to his report for
more details in Lao, or read our Lao text.