MANDALAY—Authorities in Mandalay’s Patheingyi Township have razed a number of structures built illegally on farmland.
At the instruction of the regional government, a combined team of lawmakers, farmland management committee members, police and Patheingyi Township officials began inspecting bridges and residential buildings on farmland in several villages in the township from the third week of July.
Last week, township authorities demolished seven concrete bridges built over irrigation channels, and two buildings under construction.
For financial and other reasons, local farmers have sold farmland in the villages to individual buyers and businessmen, who subdivided the land into plots and put it up for sale.
“We’ve put up warning notices against illegally selling farmland as residential land. But some have continued to do so, forcing us to demolish those buildings. We’ll continue to take action in line with existing laws if they keep it up,” a municipal official said.
“You are not allowed to use farmland for other purposes unless approved by the government. We’ve told them it is illegal to create new housing areas out of farmland. But some didn’t listen, so we demolished those buildings,” said U Thaung Htay Lin, a lawmaker representing Patheingyi Township in the Lower House.
The ultimate victims in all of this are the people who bought the land to live on, said Ko Than Cho of Aung Chan Tha village in Patheingyi. “Most of them are low-income families. They can’t afford to buy a plot in the town, so they used their savings to buy plots [of farmland] that are cheaper.”
He believed property speculators were behind the illegal sale of farmland for residential use.
Creating new housing areas, whether legally or illegally, drives up land prices in those areas and ultimately benefits the speculators, he said.
“The government should identify and take harsh against those who manipulate property prices,” he said.
In Yangon Region, the local government has temporarily stopped permitting non-agricultural use of farmland, which has dwindled in the face of rapid development.
Other regional and state governments are also planning to stop allowing fertile land to be used for other purposes.
Mandalay Region has over 500,000 acres of rice plantations and over 2.2 million acres of other crop plantations.