Lawmaker Urges Return of 15,000 Acres Seized by Govt

By Nan Lwin Hnin Pwint 2 February 2015

RANGOON — Compensation for nearly 15,000 acres of land confiscated by Burma’s former military regime for redevelopment in Rangoon has yet to be paid, according to a lawmaker in Parliament’s Lower House.

Parliamentarian Aung Thein Lin raised a question on Friday about measures the government is taking to address the claims of farmers who were not compensated for a government land-grab of about 14,900 acres of land that was seized to develop Hlinethaya, Shwepyitha and Thanlyin-Kyauktan townships.

New townships were established in Rangoon between 1989 and 1997, during which about 6,600 acres of land was confiscated from farmers to develop Hlinethaya Township; 3,172 acres for Shwepyitha Township; and 5,192 acres for Kyauktan Township, according to Aung Thein Lin.

A 1953 law pertaining to land use stipulates that the government must seek the consent of land holders and compensate them according to market prices before any plan to nationalize or repurpose the land is carried out, said Aung Thein Lin, who added that the previous government had failed to comply with this provision of the law.

Additionally, those who did receive compensation were not adequately paid, the lawmaker claimed.

“The farmland must be returned to the farmers because it was not confiscated according to the law. Companies that took the land and the government can’t just do as they please. They must provide compensation,” said Aung Thein Lin.

Deputy Construction Minister Win Myint told lawmakers that the redevelopment projects were implemented by government order and instructions to seek the consent of farmers were not given. The government’s Human Settlement and Housing Development Department is still in the process of negotiating with farmers on compensation, but return of the land is impossible because the redevelopment projects were already completed, the deputy minister said.