Perpetrators exploiting mountain range in Rakhine apprehended
The eighth regular session of the second Pyithu Hluttaw convened its seventh-day meeting yesterday.
During the session, U Oo Tun Win of Kyauktaw constituency posed a three-part question: (i) whether the demolition of the historically significant mountain range near Daungtawyo Village in the east of Kyauktaw Township, Rakhine State, would be prohibited, (ii) if the excavation businesses that had sprung up near the discontinued railway project were legal, (iii) how has the income generated from excavation businesses been used for the country and the people since 2010?
Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Maj-Gen Aung Soe replied, on behalf of the Rakhine State government.
He said the Rakhine State Peace and Development Council had leased 20 acres, along with 10 acres of grazing land from the Taungpaukgyi mountain range to state departments and the state police force, respectively, in 2003 for use as agricultural land. The police officers were reportedly using only 3 acres of the leased land, while the remaining 7 acres were left unattended. He explained that in the 2008-2009 period, while working on a project to build a railway line through the mountain range, the Myanma Railways had discovered laterite rocks during the demolition process. It then contracted with a private company to excavate the rocks, and on 17 December 2013, it contracted with a local resident to continue with the excavations.
The railway project was discontinued on 4 April 2014 after residents protested against the demolition of the ancient capital Dhanyawadi and Mrauk-U, which are cultural heritage zones. However, the excavation of laterite rocks continued, and the concerned village administrators and excavators were given final warnings on 4 March 2017, following which the excavation businesses were not allowed to continue operating in the area.
However, a state police investigation revealed that the 7 acres of leased land that had been left unattended by the police force were being used for excavation businesses, with permission from the Kyauktaw Township police chief. Further, legal action was taken against all involved parties, with the trial held on 26 January 2018. As no legal businesses were permitted after the railway project was discontinued, the government has not accrued any income, explained the deputy minister. The grazing land in Taungpaukgyi mountain range is under the management of the Kyauktaw Township General Administration Department.
Motion to expand nationwide tourism approved for discussion
U Myint Oo of Thanatpin constituency tabled a motion to urge the union government to establish tourism-based festivals and special events, increase the number of tourism agencies, and expand tourism districts to develop both community-based and eco-tourism throughout the country.
He said countries around the world were using numerous innovative methods to enhance international tourism and boost their local economies. Tourism can cause a country to become popular, while encouraging rural areas to uphold their traditions, while generating sustainable income, he noted. The tourism sector around the world is changing, said U Myint Oo, as the focus is on more authentic interactions with local communities, wildlife and nature, and accessing new and lesser known areas in a country.
He urged the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, other relevant ministries, state and regional governments, the Myanmar Tourism Organisation, and civil organisations to work together with the local people to boost tourism and follow the sustainable development of tourism standards set by the World Tourism Organisation.
Another MP seconded the motion, and the speaker announced the motion would be put forward for discussion.
By Aye Aye Thant (MNA)