Environmental Activists Protest Proposed Site of Shan State Parliament

By Nyein Nyein 11 August 2016

Environmental activists have launched a campaign to stop the government from cutting down more than 80 trees in order to build a new parliamentary building in Shan State’s capital Taunggyi.

The budget for the new state parliamentary building was approved last year, because the current structure was too small to house the 136 state lawmakers.

The plan had not been officially released but Taunggyi-based environmentalist Cherry Kyaw, who chairs the local Living Earth Green Network, said she had heard about it from confidential sources.

“The area is being measured and almost all the trees are being marked with red Xs, both the aged-trees and the young ones,” she said.

The activists said they object to building on the site because it has become a “landmark area” in Taunggyi.

“We don’t want any trees cut, big or small. It will completely destroy the environment. This is the only place where large numbers of trees are being conserved. We cannot accept losing our environment,” she told The Irrawaddy.

“Taunggyi residents are not objecting to the construction of a new parliamentary building, but they should choose another venue,” Cherry Kyaw added.

The campaigners will collect signatures from Thursday until Sunday and then send a letter to President Htin Kyaw, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, the Union and the state and division parliaments, the office of the Shan State government and the state minister for environmental conservation, forestry and natural resources.

Nang San San Aye, a Shan State lawmaker from Hsipaw Township and one of four lawmakers appointed to the tender selection committee for the new parliamentary building, said no decision had been made regarding the location and no permission had been granted to a construction company so far.

She said when the committee received proposals for four different locations for the building in June, the committee suggested choosing one of the other locations and leaving the trees in place.