Officials split over future of commercial projects on prime Yangon parkland

An outspoken Yangon City Development Committee member says he has ordered suspension of a number of construction projects on parkland beside the city’s Inya Lake, while the department responsible for contracting the companies says the projects are still going ahead.

The decision in 2013 to allow eight companies to build commercial projects in Mya Kyun Thar park on the edge of the city’s largest lake met with opposition in parliament last year, both over the rental price and the land-use plan, which the government’s auditor general deemed inappropriate.


Earlier this week, a member of the YCDC committee, U Khin Hlaing, seemingly called a halt to the projects, announcing through social media on March 7 that he had issued letters to the companies asking them to stop building.


“I went to inspect the projects, which are in my district, on March 4. Four of the eight companies are actively building, and are breaking the rules, so I have ordered them to pause until the committee has made a fresh decision,” he said.


MPs in December said the projects had been awarded without transparency and were depriving the country of income and public space.


Contracts were taken out with eight companies – Eden Group (4.79 acres), Max Myanmar Group (6.87 acres), Inya Palace (1.83 acres), Magic Land (13.86 acres), Nay La Pwint Services (2.61 acres), MGS Resort and Entertainment (4.15 acres), Good Shan Brother (7.79 acres), and Rya Ji (1.38 acres) – to develop the site, which is opposite Sedona Hotel.


U Khin Hlaing said some companies were damaging the banks of the lake and others had not received all the necessary permits but were building anyway. As an example, he said Inya Palace company is building a 3.5-storey shopping centre without permission. “Their contracts with YCDC are nothing like what they are really building. They cannot build a shopping centre and they cannot invade the lake, which is why I have ordered them to stop right now. The suspension is temporary and will be scrutinised during the next committee meeting,” U Khin Hlaing said.


An Inya Palace spokesperson said the company had paused construction last month to re-check the structure.


YCDC’s playgrounds, parks and gardens department signed contracts allowing the companies to build a recreation centre under 60-year terms, with rental fees set at K12 million a year per acre. Under the contract, companies are not allowed to build higher than 60 feet, or within 30 feet of the lake’s embankment.


“Of the eight companies, only three have official construction permits. This is a public area, if they don’t follow the rules they will be in trouble,” U Khin Hlaing said.


A spokesperson for the department of playgrounds, parks and gardens said he had received no word from U Khin Hlaing to suspend the projects.


“We won’t stop the companies from building until we receive instruction from the committee. So far U Khin Hlaing has not sent me an instruction letter. If the committee tells us to pause the projects, we will do as they say,” he said.


U Nay Win, deputy department head of the department of engineering (building), who was responsible for assessing the project proposals, said his office had granted permits and had not yet withdrawn them.


“Our department issues and withdraws permits under instructions from the department head,” he said.


Another member of YCDC, U Khin Maung Tint said the issue may be raised at the next committee meeting. “We haven’t discussed the Mya Kyun Thar projects yet, but maybe the issue will be submitted in the next meeting. Whatever we decide will be based on the law – we are not beyond the framework of the law.”


A spokesperson for Magic Land company said he had heard that U Khin Hlaing was planning to suspend the projects, but that the company had not been contacted directly, so has not stopped building.


For urban planner U Toe Aung, who works for YCDC, “Mya Kyun Thar should be public space, without commercial buildings. It’s a park and a lake, so there should be places for the public to relax and feel free.”


Source: Myanmar Times

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