Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh
South Block, Raisina Hill,
Fax: 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857.
Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh,
I have the honour to write to you about two companies of your country – ONGC Videsh and the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), with 17% and 8.5% respectively participating in the “Shwe” gas project off the coast of Burma – and to protest against their involvement with one of the world’s worst brutal military regimes.
Infrastructure development projects such as “Shwe” do not help the people of Burma. Two Burmese natural gas pipeline projects in the 1990s – Yadana and Yetagun – made it devastatingly clear that large-scale gas pipeline projects in Burma are not only detrimental to the cultural life and environmental integrity of the pipeline areas, but also lead to the entrenchment of the military regime.
During the construction of previous Burmese gas pipelines, villagers were forcibly relocated without adequate compensation. Many were forced to work to construct military outposts, clear pipeline routes or porter crops and goods the army confiscated from people’s homes – as evidenced and substantially reported by the International Labour Organisation. The incidence of rape in these areas also rose dramatically. All reports from Western Burma indicate that history is repeating itself.
Additionally, this project will rob the peoples of western Burma of their natural resources. Although resources in western Burma are plentiful, there is currently not enough electricity in Arakan State, where the “Shwe” gas fields were discovered. Instead of generating electricity or providing an alternative to charcoal cooking fuel in western Burma, this gas will be sold to the benefit of one of the world’s worst brutal military regimes.
India, the world’s largest democratic nation, ought not to be a friend of present-day Burma. The integral involvement of these two companies with the repressive Burmese junta is a scar on India’s otherwise exemplary human rights record. India’s complicity in this project will help contribute up to US$1 billion in annual revenues for one of the world’s most repressive regimes. I urge you to do everything in your power to help assure that GAIL and ONGC Videsh do not contribute to the economy of India at the expense of peoples in other lands.
For more information, please visit www.shwe.org.