Land resource is essential to us because we live and perform our economic activities on land and we use it in different ways. Land is an asset of a finite magnitude; and it is important to use the available land for various purposes with careful planning. For that reason, we all wanted to possess land.
It has always been a privilege to own a plot of land.
While the land owners get benefits and advantages from the land, they are liable to pay certain taxes to the government.
There are (22) types of different lands in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and spread out in three categories.
The group (1) being termed as the agricultural land includes paddy (rice land), ya (dry land), kaing (alluvial land) and garden land.
Rice land covers 9 point 16 percent of the total land areas; Ya (dry land) stands out at 5 point 76 percent; kaing (alluvial land) takes up for 0 point 77 percent; garden land occupies 2 point 43 percent; thatch land holds on 0 point 06 percent; taung ya cultivation (hillside cultivation) on 0 point 31 percent. Therefore, total agricultural land occupies (30,911,246) acres which accounted for 18 point 4915 percent of the whole country.
Forest areas are clustered together in the group (2).They are traditionally classified into two categories: reserved forests and unclassified (or public) forests. Forest exploitation is controlled by law, but the government allows rural communities to use various forest products (except protected plants and animal species). Protected areas cover 27 point 57 percent; wild forest stands out at 21 point 6 percent; heath or moor land (a tract of open uncultivated upland, typically covered with heather) has taken up 7 point 74 percent.
Land category (3) enveloped all the remaining (13) types of lands in the country, which accounted for (41,122,337) acres equivalent to 24 point 59 percent. Total areas cover (167,185,824) acres.
Overseeing and managing the vast areas of land bring herculean tasks as it need systematic and methodical supervision where all the stakeholders are duty-bound to share in paying the due tax over the use of land.
Addressing land disputes for the development
Land disputes are hindrances to the development of the country.The government of Myanmar promptly resolve and redress the historic land confiscations. Solving historic land confiscations and disputes will not be easy, but the government and civil society groups should work together to resolve this chronic source of instability and grievance.
Land disputes are to be addressed on the solid and firm basis of information being taken out from the files properly created, compiled and collected.
Correct and right decision over the land dispute would come only with the sincerity and right experiences. Impartiality on the side of law and the justice on the social context must be included in the decision.
Land is very much valuable and vital for the livelihoods of the people and therefore, solving the land disputes must never be taken up lightly.
Looking in the process of resolving land disputes, there should be the very first decision, and then the appeals lodged against any last resort decision or final judgment of the authorities concerned.
Land disputes are generally categorized in five kinds of natures such as that of agricultural land dispute; that of fallow land dispute; that of town and village dispute; that of confiscated land dispute; and that of other nature land dispute.
Town land and village land disputes are handled and decided by the relevant law courts constituted by existing laws.
The Central Committee for Re-scrutinizing Confiscated Farmlands and Other Lands is chaired by the Vice President, and the committees at different levels are tasked with investigating land-grab cases. Disputes regarding the confiscated nature are handled by the reviewing committees in accordance with its procedures.
Other land disputes are handled by relevant ministries according to the types of land with the existing laws, by-laws and rules.
In handling the disputes of land, the cases must be studied in different views and angles with a view to avoid flaws and wrong decisions.
Right decision starts with one person, an idea and a passion, but it is better to work out in collective manner through a committee. This is the essence of democracy.
In resolving the land dispute cases, the relevant ministries are dealing the issues in accordance with the existing laws and procedures. In this context, the categorization and classification of lands must be accurate and correct in line with the maps and records of the land department.
For correctness, rightness and accuracy, all the data and information regarding the lands are to be stored through the digital system so as to retrieve and check for verification before making decisions.
In addressing and solving a land dispute, the factors such as that of the original owner, that of the person who is currently working on the land, that of the initial cause of land dispute, that of the social, economic and other humanitarian factor are to be considered before making a decision.
Compilation and creation of a case file is very much important before making a decision on a land dispute. The task for the creation of case file must be entrusted to well experienced, skillful, and high intellect persons. Only then, the land dispute cases could be solved with justice in a speedy manner.
If the Scrutinizing Committees are being formed with the non-experienced persons, non-skillful persons, less intelligent persons, and corrupted person, then the result would be chaotic and the compiled case files would be faulty. The cases would never be solved properly. The right formation with the right persons is very much essential and vital in making the right decisions over land disputes.
Formation of survey teams for correct mapping
The maps, the land records, and other relevant information must be accurate and correct for better management of land administration. Digital systems are designed to store, process, and communicate information in digital form. Moreover, the data should be updated and refurbished, and converted into digital systems.
In acquiring correct mapping, the survey teams must be formed and equipped with modern surveying instruments along with modern land surveying techniques. Necessary budgets are to be provided in the form of investment.
As correct mapping is very much essential and brings advantages and benefits to the state, and it is, therefore, necessary inputs must be realized without fail.
Since the matter really supports and uplifts the development of the nation, serious attention should be given in this regards.
For the precision of the mapping, it is necessary in checking the ground reality for the sake of being real existence with data and information.
According to my personal experience, I came across some maps in use by way of a certain survey system in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar which are found to differ from the ground reality.
Updated mappings with accuracy must be prepared along with the data and statistics with regards to the land records matters.
Copper/ metal pillars or survey markers that were termed as “Settlements” were erected in the past on the ground to identify the different types of lands with the purpose of collecting correct statistics on the mappings.
For the tasks of erecting survey markers, the “Settlement Party” is to be formed and entrusted with the assignment of putting up markers.
Pillars (technical term is settlements) were erected at 20 years interval according to the old records. The pillars were last erected in Myaungmya District in 1938-1940, and therefore, the time has lapsed for (80) years that not a single marker was erected.
This factor is indicating to the flaws of land records data and information on ground reality.
During the (80) years time, statistical differences are sure to occur on the paper and the land realism.
With a view to maintaining correct data and information, the “Settlement Party” is urgently needed to be formed and assigned to do their tasks in acquiring correct land records statistics by using modern survey instruments and latest techniques. They are to be well funded to do their tasks.
Ministries should cooperate in land managements
Another factor most vital in the land management is to collect and maintain all the relevant laws, by-laws, rules and regulations for easy reference. Moreover, the relevant documents must be easy to understand for the general public.
Some of the laws were enacted since the colonial periods and therefore, there were very difficult to understand. Those difficult documents need to be replaced with new rules.
The different ministries handling the different land dispute cases must have the knowledge and proficiency with regards to the relevant laws with that particular land.
If a certain type of land comes under the purview or the scope of the influence or concerns of many ministries, then the case might lead or usher many problems. Therefore, the ministries involved in a certain land matter must cooperate and coordinate among themselves in moving to a right direction.
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is needed
With a view to avoiding the land dispute cases, the relevant ministries are required to work together in identifying, choosing and concurring the most appropriate law and by-law to handle the issue in hand.
In this regard, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is to be adopted for the land management to different types of land without fail. By following the systematic and methodical procedures, the proper and suitable land administration system would be achieved.
For the development of the state, for the improvement of socio-economic status, the suitable, proper and fitting land management system must be formulated and then put into practice.
SOP is to be disseminated among public
Standard Operating Procedure is to be drawn on the basis of relevant laws and by-laws in the context of land issues.
SOP is a set of step by step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers to carry out complex routine operation. SOPs aim to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity performance, while reducing miscommunication and failure to comply with industry regulations; according to
The relevant ministries should draft, create and approve their own SOPs in handling the land issues, and subsequently disseminate among the public. Only then all the stakeholders and concerned person would know the process, the steps, and the time, making the things easier in the land management.
At the same time, the public would know in advance all the process in time and would have confidence and faith over the government departments.
Standard operating procedures get down to specifics of how a task is to be accomplished. SOPs work to fulfill policy and procedures. In general, policies and procedures come first while standard operating procedures are drawn up after an organization determines its policies and procedures.
To be continued
Translated by UMT (Ahlon)