Inle Lake farmers sell off floating plots after expansion banned

Floating cultivation plots on the Inle Lake.
Floating cultivation plots on the Inle Lake.

IN an effort to prevent the silting of Inle Lake, a popular tourist destination in Shan State, the Ministry of Forestry has prohibited the expansion of floating cultivation plots on the lake. The move has inadvertently caused the price of the plots to increase, according to local cultivators.
A 100-foot long floating cultivation plot on Inle Lake in the 2014-15 fiscal year was valued at around K80,000, while the same plot now costs about K200,000.
“Since the punishment for expanding floating cultivation plots over the demarcated perimeter is no longer a fine of K500,000 but a year in prison, cultivators are sticking to the rules. Inle Lake is silting up. Cultivators are now just selling off their plots,” said a local resident called Ko Win Maung.
The prohibition on the expansion of floating cultivation plots on Inle Lake is part of a five-year sustainability and environmental conservation project implemented by twelve departments from 2010-11 to 2014-15 on the lake.
“There is a law, though there hasn’t been any legal action taken. Those who go over their permitted perimeter have been told to reduce their plots by local authorities.
As far as the K500,000, that’s just an understanding between people; it hasn’t been officially approved. The current prohibition of floating cultivation plot expansion is an activity being carried out with the agreement of villagers in a bid to mitigate damage to the lake,” said U Sein Htun, a local administrator from the Inle region.
The department of environmental conservation and wildlife protection, the department of forestry and the department for the protection of Inle Lake have announced the prohibition of the aforementioned floating plot expansion, along with land management by-laws and relevant land administrative departments, in order to conserve the waters of Inle Lake. However, there have been no reported cases of legal action being taken yet.
The department for the protection of Inle Lake was formed in 1990 in order to carry out water conservation, to ensure floating island cultivators do not overstep their allocated plots and to prevent the water surface of the lake from becoming narrow from too much cultivation.
Most cultivators in the area cultivate tomatoes, chillies and varieties of gourd on floating island plots.

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