Farm­ers protest low-cost hous­ing project in Yan­gon

The Myanmar Times - - News - ZAY YAR LIN za­yarlinn@mm­

DISPOSSESSED farm­ers are tak­ing to the courts to re­trieve land they say is theirs, mount­ing a pros­e­cu­tion against con­struc­tion com­pa­nies build­ing low­cost hous­ing there.

The homes are be­ing built on the In­galaing com­pound along the Kyan Sit Min Road in Hlaing Thar­yar town­ship, Yan­gon.

The project is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the con­struc­tion min­istry’s Depart­ment of Ur­ban and Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment, which has vowed to fight the law­suit.

“We un­der­took this project after a care­ful ex­am­i­na­tion of the sit­u­a­tion,” DUHD di­rec­tor gen­eral U Min Htein said. “We are within the law, so [the protesters] can say what they want.”

Nearly 300 acres were seized in 1989 by the then-mil­i­tary regime to es­tab­lish Hlaing Thar­yar city, in­clud­ing homes and of­fices. The farm­ers say the Kyan Sit Min project is un­der con­struc­tion on a sep­a­rate 100-acre plot they used to own.

“Th­ese lands be­longed to my fa­ther. When I got mar­ried, he gave them to me. I have doc­u­ments show­ing it to be farm­land as re­cently as 2015, as re­peat­edly ver­i­fied by the courts. The [mil­i­tary] gov­ern­ment seized 293 of the 404 acres, and [the DUHD] is build­ing on the re­main­ing 100-plus acres,” said farmer U Kyi Thaung, one of the plain­tiffs in the ac­tion.

When the gov­ern­ment an­nounced in 2012 that it would build low-cost hous­ing on the site, 10 farm­ers protested to the con­struc­tion min­is­ter and launched a law­suit against the con­struc­tion firms in­volved.

U Min Aung Aye, deputy di­rec­tor of the DUHD’s hous­ing de­vel­op­ment divi­sion, said on Oc­to­ber 3, “Kyan Sit Min is be­ing built on the 293 acres cited in the orig­i­nal land con­fis­ca­tion or­der. There is no re­main­ing farm­land. If the farm­ers take us to court, we will re­spond in court.”

The farm­ers say they de­cided in 2015 to di­rect their law­suit at the con­struc­tion com­pa­nies in­volved in the project.

“We de­cided to go after the con­struc­tion firms be­cause of the le­gal com­plex­i­ties. Su­ing the gov­ern­ment, the DUHD, would be ex­tremely com­plex and time-con­sum­ing,” said one of the plain­tiffs. “We can doc­u­ment our own­er­ship of this real es­tate. Our pros­e­cu­tion con­cerns the land not in­cluded in the orig­i­nal 293 acres of land that was sub­ject to the con­fis­ca­tion or­der.”

“It looks like they are con­fus­ing the 100 acres of this site with the 293 acres of In­galaing field that was orig­i­nally con­fis­cated. That con­fis­ca­tion or­der is now ex­pired,” he said, adding that he owned 6 acres of the whole.

The DUHD says the Kyan Sit Min low-cost hous­ing project is di­vided into two parts, and will pro­vide 3000 apart­ments. – Trans­la­tion by Khine Thazin Han and Emoon

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