Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mandalay fringe-dwellers fight fencing order

Land owners in rural blocks on the southern edge of Mandalay are upset at a municipal order to fence their open blocks, saying ownership of the land should be resolved first.

The two areas, known as La La and Pa Pa, have been the centre of many land ownership disputes.

Residents say the land was acquired by the government “decades ago” and most received no compensation. Rather than be used for a state project, it was later resold for a private industrial zone.

They have since submitted their case to the parliamentary commission investigating land disputes and commission members were expected to visit on April 7.

“We have had arguments almost every day about the notice letter ordering us to fence the plots before March 31. We have been cultivating this land since the time of our grandparents and we were not paid any compensation when the land was seized,” said Ko Yan Aung Phyo, who lives in plot number 518 in the La La area.

Residents said they want to wait for the results of the investigation before fencing off the land.

However, not all of them missed out on compensation. Those in Pa Pa were given urban land plots in place of their farmland, with those who lost up to 5 acres receiving one 2400-square-foot plot, those who lost 5-10 acres getting two plots and above 10 acres three plots, said Ko Soe Myint Aung from La La.

“But we did not get anything for seizure of our farmlands,” he said.

He said some steps were being taken to redress this. The owners of 10 of the 100 or so plots in the La La area recently reached a compensation deal with the new owner, he said.

“Those who hold the land ownership now seem to be willing to negotiate with us about compensation so I think it will be okay,” he said.

Mandalay City Development Committee announced all unfenced land needed to be fenced off by March 31. Those that fail to comply face losing their land.

Mandalay Mayor Aung Moung told reporters in late February the instruction was designed to make property ownership clearer.

“The disputed land plots were allocated during the time of the former military regime. Some were resold to one person after another informally without registering legal ownership at the municipal department. Now there are many problems because of these plots,” he said.

He said the government did not have a responsibility to resolve disputes resulting from land it had confiscated and consequently sold to developers.

“Those who are granted ownership are landlords since the lands have been transferred to their hands. So the owners will have to solve their land dispute problems in the courts by themselves.”

Translated by Zar Zar Soe