MANDALAY — A company that is developing a resort and culture park on the eastern bank of Mandalay’s landmark Taungthaman Lake has guaranteed its eco-friendliness amid local concern over the environmental impact of the project.
U Khin Maung Tun, an information officer at the Taungthaman Thitsar company, said the business will be loyal to Taungthaman Lake, during the third round of public consultations on the resort project with locals of Ywa Thit village near the lake on Tuesday.
“Ours is a company that will be loyal to Taungthaman Lake. The interests of the region take precedence over those of the company. Not only the company but also local residents will benefit if this area is urbanized,” said U Khin Maung Tun.
The Myanmar Investment Commission gave the green light to the project in March. The company is waiting for the approval of the Mandalay City Development Committee to start construction, U Khin Maung Tun told The Irrawaddy.
According to him, the company has obtained 40 acres of land that were previously farmland to build the resort and the park. The wastewater from the project will not be drained into Taungthaman Lake, but into nearby Pan Yan Taw creek.
“We won’t sustain ourselves by hurting local people,” said public relations officer U Thein Than Oo of the company.
The company will turn the surroundings of the lake into man-made forests in three years, he added.
The company has hired Yangon-based OSHE Services to conduct environmental and social impact assessments as well as a heritage impact assessment, as the site is near Taungthaman Lake and U Bein Bridge, which spans the lake.
Those reports were submitted to the Mandalay Region Environmental Conservation Department last year, said director U Soe Myint of OSHE Co.
The project was given the go-ahead in mid-2015 under the previous government. But the current administration suspended it months after it took office in 2016 due to problems related to the use of farmland for the project, an unknown source of funds, and procedural requirements.
“Only when it is in line with necessary laws and procedures, will a development project last and be beneficial to the people,” U Myat Thu, the Mandalay Region planning and finance minister, told The Irrawaddy.
The regional government launched an investigation into the project after local residents of Amarapura Township complained about its impact in September 2016.
Locals have complained that water levels in the lake have risen to unprecedented levels in the past two rainy seasons following the piling soil for foundations by the company in 2016.
Some of the buildings of the project were removed as their height exceeded 40 feet, the maximum height allowed in the ancient cultural zone.
“Locals can report to us if the company doesn’t keep its promises. We will do an immediate inspection,” said director Dr. Tin Min Maung of the Mandalay Region Environmental Conservation Department.
The project is scheduled for completion in five years and will include a resort, shop-cum-houses, and convention centers, said U Khin Maung Tun.
The culture park intends to revive and promote Burmese culture and history, he said.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.