Shwedagon High-Rise Developments to be Relocated Soon: MIC

By Kyaw Phyo Tha 27 August 2015

RANGOON — The relocation of five cancelled developments planned near Rangoon’s Shwedagon Pagoda is likely to be finalized by the end of the year, according to the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC).

At a press conference on Wednesday, MIC secretary Aung Naing Oo reiterated earlier comments that developments would be relocated elsewhere in Rangoon to compensate for the government’s July cancellation, but added the onus has fallen on project backers to seek suitable sites.

Land owned by government departments would be offered as potential development sites, and the MIC would ask the relevant ministry whether the land could be made available, the secretary added.

“If they agree, the ministry and companies will have to negotiate the rest. It will take time but should be completed this year,” he said. “The companies have also proposed their preferences but the government has yet to approve any so far.

When pressed, Aung Naing Oo would not disclose the location of the sites under consideration. He added that the government had not set a deadline to finalize the relocation, but said the government and affected companies had agreed to conclude an agreement on project sites “as soon as possible”.

The five projects, including the high-profile Dagon City 1 luxury condominium development, were suspended by the MIC in January pending a review. Critics claimed the developments risked structural damage to Shwedagon Pagoda, Burma’s most sacred religious site.

Amid opposition from architects, lawmakers and the Buddhist clergy, and on the recommendation of both the MIC and the Ministry of Defense—the original owner of the 71-acre allotment—President Thein Sein announced the cancellation of the developments in July.

“The government…does not want to damage religious edifices and objects of cultural heritage such as Shwedagon Pagoda for development, and held negotiations with the companies to cancel the projects,” read a statement from Thein Sein’s office at the time.

 Additional reporting by Kyaw Hsu Mon.