Taungthaman re­sort project stalled by lo­cal con­cerns

The Myanmar Times - - News - KYAW KO KO kyawkoko@mm­times.com

FOL­LOW­ING lo­cal com­plaints, con­struc­tion of the Taungthaman tourist re­sort is on ice again. The Man­dalay Re­gion gov­ern­ment is re­view­ing po­ten­tial neg­a­tive im­pacts of the sus­pended project, and will sub­mit a re­port by the end of this month, ac­cord­ing to a Man­dalay of­fi­cial.

The model vil­lage and cul­tural park, which was al­ready ap­proved by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment, was slated for two plots sur­round­ing the iconic Taungthaman Lake in Amara­pura town­ship.

Part of the K10 bil­lion de­vel­op­ment was sus­pended af­ter a site in­spec­tion by the chief min­is­ter and mayor in May, with of­fi­cials cit­ing the need to ex­am­ine any en­vi­ron­men­tal con­se­quences on the his­toric site. At the time, de­vel­oper Taungthaman Thit­sar said it was 90 per­cent done clear­ing the area, and 5pc into con­struc­tion work.

Now the re­sort project, part of which is lo­cated less than 1900 feet (580 me­tres) from the his­toric U Bein Bridge, will be re­viewed by an 11-mem­ber panel that was formed on Septem­ber 7. The panel’s re­port is due to be is­sued by the end of the month, Man­dalay Re­gion’s Min­is­ter of Re­source and En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion U Myo Thit told The Myan­mar Times on Septem­ber 13.

“We will sub­mit our find­ings to the re­gional gov­ern­ment,” said U Myo Thit, who is also the chair of the panel. “Skilled lo­cal peo­ple will an­a­lyse the project through the lens of their re­spec­tive sec­tors. If it will harm the en­vi­ron­ment, we will not al­low it.”

On Septem­ber 10, Man­dalay Re­gion Mayor U Ye Lwin put a freeze on nu­mer­ous as­pects of con­struc­tion un­til the re­port is com­plete. Con­struc­tion is not al­lowed within 200 feet of U Bein Bridge, a sign­board for the project must be taken down, con­struc­tion of a smooth stone street near the lake has been halted, and build­ings can­not be erected out­side of one des­ig­nated sec­tion of the project.

The first – a 40-acre (16-hectare) plot sur­rounded by the vil­lages of Taungthaman, Nwarno­tawsu, Tenant­tha and Ywarthit southeast of the lake near the bridge – was given the go-ahead in March 2015. The sec­ond, a 58-acre (23-hectare) par­cel, was ap­proved on March 28, just be­fore the ad­min­is­tra­tion changed hands.

Con­struc­tion of the re­sort and cul­tural park be­gan in April 2015 and is ex­pected to take about five years to com­plete.

The de­vel­oper could not be reached for com­ment, but in June had wel­comed the new gov­ern­ment to in­spect the project. – Trans­la­tion by Khine Thazin Han and San Layy

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