Three Mandalay projects delayed pending review
THREE Mandalay Region development projects approved under the previous government are being reconsidered under the National League for Democracy administration.
The projects are temporarily stalled while experts study potential negative impacts on the local environment and the public, officials have noted. Organising committees have been formed to analyse all three projects, said regional Minister for Electricity, Energy and Construction U Zarni Aung.
The first delayed project is in Mandalay Region’s Amarapura township: Taungthaman Resort, which was approved in March 2015 and expanded in March of this year, just before the government changed hands.
Construction began in April 2015 and was halted in May of this year, with officials citing environmental concerns, and then resumed and halted again in September. The committee will examine the project’s impacts on the local ecosystem and cultural heritage.
In mid-September, a new road project linking Pyin Oo Lwin to Mandalay was shelved because nearly 22 miles of it would wind through a forest, necessitating that 75,000 trees be chopped down.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation raised concerns about the number of trees that would need to be felled to build the new route, a spokesperson for the AC Yon Mandalay Highway Company said.
Construction on the project has ceased until the issue is resolved.
Finally, an oil-loading site approved under the old government to be built at the intersection of the Ayeyarwady and Myitnge rivers in Mandalay Region will remain on hold until it is reviewed by an organising committee, U Zarni Aung said on October 26.
It was approved in March 2015 to replace the current fuel-loading site at Shwe Kyat Yet harbour, which is not fireproofed. The fuel makes its way to Mandalay Region by road and is then distributed on the river. Myanmar Energy Development Public Company was allotted 37.9 acres of land to store 32 oil tanks holding 2 million gallons of oil.
In August, the project was suspended while the new government examined its environmental impacts.
In September, they formed an organising committee with experts from various sectors and U Zarni Aung at its head.
“If the harbour project is complete, it will be a place for distributing fuel to the whole of upper Myanmar,” he said. “That is very good for development, but this case will not be easily decided. It is important to determine whether or not it will destroy the environment or the social make-up of the area. For example, if the fuel leaks into the river, what will they do? We have to look into it.”
It is important to determine whether the project is in the best interests of the public, he said. The environmental impacts will also be studied.
“Since the government allows the sale of private oil, there is no system for distributing oil tanks,” U Zarni Aung said. “We have to think about techniques and systems for the distribution of oil tanks. As for the techniques, the construction site is on the sand so the construction process is very important to consider. The company needs to use skilled engineers and the government needs to hire experts to examine the plans.”
While the company is public, Myanmar Energy Development Public Company official U Kyaw Kyaw says it has plans to sell shares if it succeeds.
“There is no love or hate in the fact that the government is scrutinising these projects,” said U Zarni Aung. “It is not beneficial to stop these projects for a long time. The government has to keep the economy running smoothly. But it also needs to examine whether or not they support the public and if they might be harmful to the environment.” – Translation by Khine Thazin Han
and San Layy
A conceptual rendering shows the planned Taungthaman Resort in Mandalay Region, where development has been suspended amid a review.