Suspended development project causing headache and environmental degradation, MP says
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