Three Man­dalay projects de­layed pend­ing re­view

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

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

Photo: Sup­plied

A con­cep­tual ren­der­ing shows the planned Taungthaman Re­sort in Man­dalay Re­gion, where de­vel­op­ment has been sus­pended amid a re­view.

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