Sus­pended devel­op­ment project caus­ing headache and en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion, MP says

The Myanmar Times - - News - SI THU LWIN sithul­win@mm­times.com

CON­FU­SION over the own­er­ship of a huge plot of land seized by the for­mer gov­ern­ment for a project that was never com­pleted is ru­in­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, says a lo­cal MP.

U Aung Min (NLD; Pyin Oo Lwin 1) said the devel­op­ment project on the 10,000-acre (4000-hectare) plot, which in­cludes 6834 acres of for­est re­serve land, 297 acres of cul­ti­vated land and 2207 acres of vir­gin for­est land, was only 10 per­cent com­plete.

The land was seized for devel­op­ment of Yada­nar­pon New Town near Thaung Htaung vil­lage, Pyin Oo Lwin town­ship, in 2007. The project was later sus­pended.

In­stead of the devel­op­ment projects, most of the land was planted with cof­fee trees, peren­nial plants, man­darin or­ange plants and teak, ac­cord­ing to the farm­ers.

“Fifty farm­ers are fac­ing trial in land own­er­ship dis­putes. There is tres­pass­ing, and il­le­gal land trans­ac­tions oc­cur. Be­cause no­body seems to know what’s go­ing on, peo­ple are claim­ing own­er­ship and ag­gres­sively clear­ing for­est land. This is caus­ing huge dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment,” MP U Aung Min told The Myan­mar Times on Septem­ber 26. He has con­ducted three field in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the is­sue.

U Zarni Aung, min­is­ter for elec­tric­ity, en­ergy and con­struc­tion, said on Septem­ber 21 that the own­er­ship dis­pute would be re­solved ac­cord­ing to guide­lines from the Man­dalay Re­gion gov­ern­ment.

The Yada­nar­pon project was taken over by the Depart­ment of Ur­ban and Hous­ing Devel­op­ment un­der the Min­istry of Con­struc­tion ear­lier this year. The gov­ern­ment’s eco­nomic af­fairs com­mit­tee de­cided to stop fur­ther work on the project de­spite sugges­tions that the cur­rent gov­ern­ment should restart it.

“Since DUHD took over, tres­passers have been clear­ing the for­est and some are build­ing houses and sell­ing off parts of the land. We have warned them three times to de­sist,” said the min­is­ter.

“We will ask the re­gional gov­ern­ment for guide­lines as to how to deal with this,” U Zarni Aung told MPs.

– Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe

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