Lower House Agrees to Discuss Review of Controversial Development Projects

By San Yamin Aung 22 February 2017

RANGOON — Burma’s Lower House agreed to the discussion of an urgent proposal to review controversial long-term projects across the country—such as dams, mines, and construction—on Wednesday.

Mi Kon Chan, a National League for Democracy (NLD) Lower House lawmaker representing Paung Township in Mon State, submitted the proposal urging the Union government to review projects allowed under previous administrations “which are harmful for the livelihood of the local residents and environment.”

She said the projects—particularly those involving foreign investment or joint ventures with the government for periods of 30-60 years—which she sees as lacking in transparency, remain a challenge for the new NLD administration.

The projects include timber production, oil and natural gas extraction, coal fired plants, mines, construction ventures, dams, and some ventures that have not yet become operational, Mi Kon Chan said.

She added that she was concerned land grabs had likely preceded the implementation of the projects, and that some of the mining projects operating in her constituency also have heightened risks of landslides and erosion.

“The government needs to ask for public opinion before approving the projects, and hold discussions and make considerations based on both the pros and cons of the project,” she told lawmakers, adding that if this procedure were not followed, it could result in public objections.

“It is not good if it benefits one person but could lead to damage for 1,000 people,” she said, urging the government to review the projects nationwide.

The proposal for discussion was approved by the Parliament with no objections.