Hundreds of families evicted from Mingalardon

Heavy machinery reduced the homes of several hundred families to rubble in Yangon’s Mingalardon township early yesterday, leaving residents in the rain with their meager possessions.

The families were designated as squatters on the 560 acres of land leased to military-owned Myanmar Economic Holdings Company Ltd (MEHC). Nearly 500 houses had been built on the land that the company says it has leased since 1993 on a 30-year contract.

While the company said that it had allowed some short-term cultivation on 14 vacant blocks, out of a total of 39, it maintains that the 478 houses built on the land were constructed without permission.

The plot on Pyinmabin industrial zone is located next to a military-owned beer factory.

On January 5, 2015, the city development committee’s office in Mingalardon sent a notification to the slum dwellers to leave the area by June 17 of last year, according to section 21(1) of the Farmland Act. A second letter was sent again this year, giving the residents from January 22 to 25 to vacate their homes.

“Most of the dwellers are poor. It is not easy for them to move. They don’t know where to go. We asked the authorities to let them move only after their children finish their exams two months from now, but they didn’t listen,” said Ma Khin Soe Wai, who lives nearby and came to help the desperate families. “They destroyed their houses with bulldozers.”

Rental prices have skyrocketed in Yangon over the past five years since the country opened up to foreign investment, making it impossible for many to rent a home in the booming city. Workers moving to the city from rural areas are often left with no choice but to build illegal settlements on vacant land.

The land in Mingalardon near the Tiger Beer Brewery is owned by the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, according to Myanmar Now, an online agency.

A man, who asked not to be named, said he bought a plot of land in the area just over a year ago, for K8 million. “I bought the land in December 2014 and I fenced it in September last year. I have documents and receipt, but also I lost my land,” he said while looking at his former property.

Some of the families had lived in the area for years and religious buildings had been constructed there. Residents had renamed the area, which is officially called Konetalabaung No 2 plantation, as San Thamardi ward and Mye Myan Aung plantation area.

About 200 police were positioned outside the area for security and bus lines provided help in carrying families’ belongings for those who could not afford the cost of transportation.

Source: Myanmar Times

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