August 19, 2016

Half of all land grab complaints filed in Yangon Region

A farmer ploughs his land to grow crops in Bago. Photo: Aye Min Soe
A farmer ploughs his land to grow crops in Bago. Photo: Aye Min Soe

YANGON Region is reported to top the list of land grab complaints being investigated across the country, followed by Nay Pyi Taw and Bago Region.
There are 4,122 ongoing farmland disputes in the country, with 2,261 in Yangon Region alone. Nay Pyi Taw is home to 452 cases, followed by Bago Region with 371.
The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw scrutiny committee said it has received 17,718 complaints from around the country. However, only 3,782 complaints were sent directly to the Central Committee for Land Resources Management, of which 81 were found to be false complaints.
The Ministry of Defence has unilaterally abandoned 189,153 acres of land, while other ministries have given up 22,293 acres, and companies and organisations have given up 2,560 acres.
Among the confiscated land, over 29,085 acres are slated to be returned to their lawful owners.
To solve problems related to issues of land grabbing, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation has suggested recently for the drawing up of strong laws to solve problems related to issues of land confiscation.
The extreme complexity of farmland confiscations and related disputes in Myanmar have made them difficult to resolve, said Dr Htun Win, the deputy minister for of agriculture, livestock and irrigation.
“This is a new government, and it’s one put into office by the public, so there’s a need to adhere to public wishes as much as possible. We’ll prioritise these long-procrastinated cases of farmland confiscation, but there’s a good chance we could see delays on the legal side of things. As such, I wish for people not so be overly optimistic and be understanding [about the limitations of government procedure],” said the deputy minister.
The task of drawing up an inclusive piece of legislation that can solve the array of problems related to farmland confiscation around the country and disputes over original ownership entitlements could likely take an extended period of time.
“The origin of all farmland problems is the confiscation, dividing up and selling off of plots of land for one’s own profit under the guise of doing so in the name of the public. The marking off of plots of land, the erection of ‘No Trespassing’ signs and the selling off of land are ugly stains on the country’s image. The country’s land has been misused. It is the responsibility of the new government to ensure that ownership arrives back in the hands of the lands’ original owners,” continued Dr Htun Win.
Roughly 200,000 acres of land have been confiscated from private owners nationwide, of which the Farmers Affairs Committee in the Amyotha Hluttaw was able to investigate a total of 18,000 cases during the first hluttaw, of which 12,000 were resolved.
“The over 6,000 yet-to-be-investigated cases from the previous hluttaw have now been passed over to the current hluttaw. We will continue to solve the remaining cases during the second hluttaw. But there are also many cases that have been investigated but where no resolution was found. These cases are the biggest. There are still so many citizens who are landless to this day,” said U Soe Win, general secretary of the Amyotha Hluttaw Farmers Affairs Committee.
The principal actors in farmland confiscations have been the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Defence Services), government ministries, private construction companies, national economic projects and industrial zone construction projects.—Pho Thant / Myitmakha News Agency


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