Mandalay residents evicted to make way for the Yadanarpon Bridge project more than 10 years ago are pushing for their land to be returned.
In 2001, regional authorities moved residents from three villages in Amarapura township because of the Yadanarpon Bridge project and resettled them in new sites on a floodplain near the bridge, the villagers said.
“We sent a letter to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s Rule of Law, Peace and Stability Committee, the land investigation commission and Pyidaungsu Hluttaw in the last week of September together with the signatures of all villagers,” U Moe Naung from Khawar village said on November 7.
“Before the bridge project started and we were moved, the authorities promised we could get back our old villages if they are outside the project area. However, when the project was finished in April 2008, the authorities did not give back our land and Ministry of Construction continued to use it. We object that officials from … Ministry of Construction are applying to get formal ownership of our lands at Amarapura township’s Settlements and Land Records Department,” he said.
As a result of the letter, officials from Amarapura township’s general administrative department called residents to their office on November 8 to discuss the issue. More than 100 villagers went to meet the officials, who called another five villagers to come to the office on November 9.
“They asked me what the authorities told us before we were moved from our village and about compensation. I don’t want to use the word ‘compensation’ as we were not even given enough money to rebuild our houses,” said U Maung Tint after he met the officials on November 9.
Residents of Thapyay Tan village said that the three villages face severe flooding every year in their new location.
“The new place is flooded up to nine months of the year. We have to move beside the Sagaing-Mandalay road and near the bridge in temporary huts every year during rainy season until the water level down again. If not, we could drown, be bitten by dangerous snakes or face other health problems,” said Daw Khin Mar and Daw Khin Than.
“As we had to move from our original villages and were not given any farmland, we face social and economic problems and we are all in trouble now. In the past we owned land and even created employment by hiring labourers for our fields but now we work as servants and laborers,” they said.
They said each family from the three villages was given compensation of 2 tonnes of wood to rebuild a house at the new site and K10,000.
“They told us that they would build roads and install electricity at the new place but nothing has happened and it is still like a jungle.”