No agreement between the government and locals, resettlement program delayed

September 30, 2019

HURFOM: On August 9, 2019, there was a landslide in Ye Pyar Gone village, Thel Phyu Gone village track, Paung Township in Mon State and 27 houses were destroyed. The Mon State government has attempted to negotiate a resettlement program with the survivors but they have not reached an agreement.

The government proposes to provide land plots to those who lost their homes due to the disaster and construct a new home up to value of 7 million kyat/household. In addition, an electric power system would be built at the new resettlement site, according to the Mon State government.

The local (survivors) want to stay at their original places. (But) those places are not safe to stay. It’s dangerous. So the government gives land plots for resettlement. If the locals want to move to the new resettlement site, the government will construct a 7-million house for each household. And if they want to construct houses by themselves, the government will give 7 million kyat cash to them. (The government will also) set up an electric power system and construct roads. If they accept this proposal, the government will immediately start the resettlement program. But none of them agreed –now, we are still under negotiations,” said Dr Min Kyi Win, the Minister of Mon State Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.

The government has the authority to use grazing land for the resettlement program and the proposed site is 7 furlongs away from the original Ye Pyar Gone village. Locals have refused the government plan as they wish to stay in their original village.

Local residents do not agree with the financial compensation package either.

I can’t accept that the government will construct 7-million [kyat] houses for us. I had to buy a land plot with tens of millions of kyat. After giving us a 7-million house, does the government allow us to have our original land plot? If they don’t give us our original land plot, I won’t accept their offer. We already suffered from a big loss. If we have to give up our land plots, it’s too much for us. Anyhow, I want to stay at the original place. Even [if] it’s risky, I want to stay there. If it’s really dangerous to stay, we will farm vegetables at the land plot,” said a local resident.

In response the Minister said, “If the government constructs new houses, it will occupy the original places. It’s impossible (for the locals) to have both of the new houses and the original land plots.”

After the landslide at Ma Lat Mount, a group of geologists conducted a survey of the mountain ranges in Paung Township between August 20 and September 13, 2019. According to their survey, 21 land cracks in the mountain ranges were found and these could lead to future landslides at those areas, noted the Minister.

We’ve found the signs of possible [future] landslides. But it’s difficult to move all people who live on the hillside of [the] mountain ranges. Moving out of a house isn’t an easy one. Even [if] the government [provides] land plots, –do the local residents decide to move out? That’s also a problem,” said Dr Min Kyi Win, a member of the Mon State government.

The Mon State government plans to raise public awareness among the Paung residents of the geological survey teams findings, and the risks of future landslides.

The Natural Resources and Environment Minister added, “The landslide isn’t related to the stone mine projects. (Even though) people said the landslide must be due to the impact of stone mine projects. The stone mine project [did not] exist at Mottama but at Kyone Ka. There is no landslide there (Kyone Ka).”

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