One year on, Chin State still reel­ing from slides

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - NYAN LYNN AUNG nyan­lin­aung@mm­times.com

More than a year af­ter land­slides swept away their homes and liveli­hoods, res­i­dents of Chin State’s cap­i­tal say they are tired of be­ing ne­glected as capri­cious po­lit­i­cal prom­ises fall through.

ONE year af­ter land­slides rav­aged north­ern Chin State, and ge­ol­o­gists rec­om­mended a re­lo­ca­tion of the state cap­i­tal, lit­tle on the ground has changed, res­i­dents say. Elec­tion prom­ises of re­set­tle­ment by Christ­mas were largely un­met, and fam­i­lies even­tu­ally moved into the new dwellings con­tinue to lack elec­tric­ity or water.

The rain-trig­gered land­slides that struck in July 2015 swept away 7000 houses and pushed more than 4000 peo­ple from Hakha into tem­po­rary dis­place­ment camps.

The state gov­ern­ment be­gan re­build­ing homes along the HakhaFalam high­way, near the new com­pound of min­is­te­rial houses, soon af­ter the dis­as­ter. But de­spite an es­ti­mated com­ple­tion date of De­cem­ber last year, state au­thor­i­ties have still yet to fi­nalise the planned 732 re­place­ment houses in the state cap­i­tal, or build the ac­com­pa­ny­ing in­fra­struc­ture, such as a hos­pi­tal and schools.

Pung Laung Minn Htang, Chin State min­is­ter for so­cial wel­fare, told The Myan­mar Times that the project was mostly com­plete, with al­most 700 houses suc­cess­fully re­built so far. He added that be­tween 70 and 100 fam­i­lies con­tinue to need re­place­ment homes.

“We al­ready de­mar­cated an area and be­gan prepara­tory ground­work. But the houses have not all been con­structed yet. How­ever, we are do­ing our best to re­place every­one’s homes,” he said.

Salai KB Thawng, a Hakha-based jour­nal­ist with the Hakha Post, crit­i­cised the new gov­ern­ment for not yet im­ple­ment­ing the prom­ises made to dis­placed res­i­dents, but en­cour­aged op­ti­mism.

“I think they [the gov­ern­ment] can’t af­ford to com­plete ev­ery­thing that was promised yet be­cause Chin State has many needs and more time is re­quired to meet those needs,” he said.

But res­i­dents at the re­place­ment site are tired of wait­ing. They point to shoddy work­man­ship, and more than a year of ne­glect. The re­place­ment homes can­not be con­sid­ered per­ma­nent, they say, as the struc­tures are not weather-proof, and the neigh­bour­hoods are still short on water, power and con­nect­ing roads.

Pu Sui Cung, one of the re­lo­cated res­i­dents, said his re­place­ment home leaks ev­ery time it rains, and no drains have been con­structed, caus­ing con­stant floods.

“No­body cares about the peo­ple liv­ing in the re­place­ment area,” he said. “A year has passed and the res­i­dents still do not have a daily job af­ter their farm­land was de­stroyed. The gov­ern­ment keeps mak­ing prom­ises to do the best it can for those who need re­set­tle­ment with­out ac­tu­ally hav­ing a proper plan to put into ac­tion.”

Photo: Aung Myin Ye Zaw

A res­i­dent of the Chin State cap­i­tal Hakha walks through an area de­stroyed by land­slides in July 2015.

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