Regional government rejects proposal on controversial property projects

The Yangon Region government has shot down a proposal to suspend or cancel controversial property projects near Shwedagon Pagoda, as a committee of monks announced they intend to stop the projects from going ahead.

The five multi-million-dollar developments just south of Shwedagon were halted in January by the Myanmar Investment Commission amid zoning concerns. Bahan representative Daw Nyo Nyo Thin submitted a proposal to debate the high-profile projects – including the US$300 million Dagon City 1 – saying they would block views of the pagoda, detract from the city’s green space and cause further traffic congestion in the area.

But regional government representatives said the projects falls under Union government control, and dismissed any further debate.

“These projects are not under the region government’s management,” said Minister for National Planning and Economic Development U Thann Myint.

Daw Nyo Nyo Thin suggested her proposal was dismissed because of government interests in the projects, which are on military-owned land.

“The regional government shouldn’t have objected [to the proposal] and other representatives should have had a chance to discuss it in the parliament. So I suspect the government [was involved],” she said.

The projects have faced opposition from a broad range of groups due to transparency concerns and fears that planned towers will harm views of the pagoda.

Continued delays in a proposed zoning plan have resulted in a dispute over height limits in the area, with opponents calling for a 62-foot (18.6-metre) height limit, while developers say the area is zoned for a maximum of 190 feet (57m).

A committee of monks and nationalist organisations, including Ma Ba Tha, yesterday added their dissent to the mix.

“We will demand officials not allow the construction of high-rise buildings and extracting of underground water near the pagoda in the future, as well as try to stop the [planned] housing projects,” said U Aung Myine, a member of the newly formed Shwedagon Pagoda Protection Committee.

The group said it plans to hand out “Protect Shwedagon” pamphlets, and also urgently petition parliament and government ministers to reconsider the project.

At a forum in May, civil engineers and architects suggested any environmental damage to Singuttara Hill next to Shwedagon could cause damage to the pagoda.

Stakeholders from the planned development projects could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Source: Myanmar Times

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