Inspection Report to Recommend Canceling Controversial Hotel Project at Inle Lake

By Htet Naing Zaw 10 October 2018

NAYPYITAW—Authorities have conducted a field inspection at the location of a proposed hotel project at Shan State’s Inle Lake by Myanmar Naing Group Co. Ltd. owned by U Tun Naing Shwe, son of former Snr-Gen Than Shwe, after locals voiced their opposition to it.

A group of government officials, including representatives of the Shan State government and concerned ministries, launched the inspection on Oct. 3, and is now writing a report to be submitted to the President’s Office, said U Thein Zaw Moe, lawmaker of Yawnghwe Township in the Shan State parliament.

“It is now unlikely that the hotel project will proceed. We have remarked that it should not be allowed and that the area should be kept as a natural area,” U Thein Zaw Moe told The Irrawaddy.

In September, the President’s Office received a petition from locals opposing Myanmar Naing Group’s plan to build a hotel on a 90-acre piece of land in Mai Thaut village at Inle Lake in Shan State’s Yawnghwe Township.

“The President’s Office then instructed representatives of the state government and the concerned ministries to do an inspection on the ground in line with the law. They are doing the inspection but have not yet presented their report,” spokesperson for the President’s Office, U Zaw Htay, told reporters.

The company acquired the 90 acres of land on the lakeshore, while former president Snr-Gen Than Shwe was in office, with the intention of building an international-standard hotel on it. However, they didn’t move forward with the project until five years later—in 2016 the company submitted an application to build a hotel on the land, in line with official procedures, and was met with objections from local residents. In June this year, they reapplied for permission to use the land for hotel construction, and that was when locals submitted their official complaint.

“During that period, the company didn’t apply for land ownership or permission to build a hotel. Only recently did it make the hotel project announcement in line with procedures. That’s when locals staged a protest,” he said.

Locals sent their petition to the President’s Office, the State Counselor’s Office, the Upper House Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Committee and the concerned ministries.

The natural resources and environmental conservation ministry, in its reply to the upper house committee, remarked that the land should be turned into a wildlife sanctuary as demanded by locals.

According to locals, there are 14 hotels in and around Inle Lake and a number of land disputes in connection with those hotels.

In June 2015, Inle Lake was included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and became the first ever Biosphere Reserve in Myanmar. The lake became the fifth Wetland of International Importance as defined by the Ramsar Convention in Myanmar last month.