Three Mandalay projects delayed pending review

Three Mandalay projects delayed pending review

A conceptual rendering shows the planned Taungthaman Resort in Mandalay Region, where development has been suspended amid a review. (Myanmar Times photo)
A conceptual rendering shows the planned Taungthaman Resort in Mandalay Region, where development has been suspended amid a review. (Myanmar Times photo)

Three Mandalay Region development projects approved under the previous government are being reconsidered under the National League for Democracy administration.

The projects are temporarily stalled while experts study potential negative impacts on the local environment and the public, officials have noted.

Organising committees have been formed to analyse all three projects, said regional Minister for Electricity, Energy and Construction Zarni Aung.

The first delayed project is Taungthaman Resort in Amarapura township, which was approved in March 2015 and expanded a year later, just before the government changed hands.

Construction began in April 2015 and was halted in May this year, with officials citing environmental concerns, and then resumed and halted again in September.

The committee will examine the project’s impacts on the local ecosystem and cultural heritage, according to a Myanmar Times report.

In mid-September, a new road project linking Pyin Oo Lwin to Mandalay was shelved because nearly 35 miles of it would wind through a forest, forcing a cut of 75,000 trees.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation raised concerns about the number of trees that would need to be felled to build the new route, a spokesperson for the AC Yon Mandalay Highway Company said.

Construction on the project has ceased until the issue is resolved.

Finally, an oil-loading site approved under the old government to be built at the intersection of the Ayeyarwady and Myitnge rivers will remain on hold until it is reviewed by an organising committee, Zarni Aung said on Oct 26.

It was approved in March 2015 to replace the current fuel-loading site at Shwe Kyat Yet harbour, which is not fireproof. The fuel makes its way to Mandalay by road and is then distributed on the river.

Myanmar Energy Development Plc was allotted 96 rai to store 32 oil tanks holding 7.6 million litres of oil.

In August, the project was suspended while the new government examined its environmental impacts.

In September, they formed an organising committee with experts from various sectors and Zarni Aung at its head.

“If the harbour project is complete, it will be a place for distributing fuel to all of upper Myanmar,” he said. “That is very good for development, but this case will not be easily decided. It is important to determine whether or not it will destroy the environment or the social makeup of the area. For example, if the fuel leaks into the river, what will they do? We have to look into it.”

It is important to determine whether the project is in the best interests of the public, he said. The environmental impacts will also be studied.

“Since the government allows the sale of private oil, there is no system for distributing oil tanks,” Zarni Aung said. “We have to think about techniques and systems for the distribution of oil tanks. As for the techniques, the construction site is on the sand so the construction process is very important to consider. The company needs to use skilled engineers and the government needs to hire experts to examine the plans.”

Myanmar Energy Development Plc official Kyaw Kyaw says his company has plans to sell shares if it succeeds.

“There is no love or hate in the fact that the government is scrutinising these projects,” said Zarni Aung. “It is not beneficial to stop these projects for a long time. The government has to keep the economy running smoothly. But it also needs to examine whether or not they support the public and if they might be harmful to the environment.”

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