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Pyithu Hluttaw: Okkalapa Pagoda, Rehabilitating illegal tenants

The 14th day of the 2nd Pyitthu Hluttaw 4th regular meeting continued yesterday in NayPyiTaw.ThePyithu Hluttaw Speaker informed the Hluttaw on transferring duties between Pyithu Hluttaw committee members and the appointment of new members. In the meeting, Dr. U Saw Naing from South Okkalapa constituency posed a question: “How will ministries concerned handle the building of high-rise buildings over 70 feet within 100 feet of the precinct of Okkalapa Pagoda in North Okkalapa?” To this the Union Minister for Religious Affairs and Culture Thura U Aung Ko replied that, in accord with the accepted submittal of lowering landowner U Htay Aung’s original approval of constructing five-storied buildings with basement+12.5 story buildings to basement+8.5 storied buildings was approved on 8 April 2015 at the Yangon Region Government meeting No. 18/2015, decision clause 7, the Yangon City Development Committee has viewed and found the proposals of high-rise building constructions are in accord with the set rules and therefore had been approved. The Okkalapa pagoda was erected in 1990 and has a height of 108 feet. In the seventh State Sangha Maha Nayaka  (First Sect) second ninth meeting on 10 June 2015, it was submitted to the Yangon Region Government to carefully analyses building projects with experts so as to avoid obstructing the view of the pagoda and threatening its infrastructure. On 3 August 2015 an investigation team Was formed and in the Region Government meeting in 3 March 2016 they concluded the acceptable height of 96 feet, which was approved. Similarly, the Okkalapa Pagoda board of trustees submitted to the Ministry of Religious Affairs to halt construction of the 8 storied Sakura Co. building 59 feet from the pagoda. The Ministry of Religious Affairs together with Yangon Region Government and the YCDC entered discussions and found the building to be in terms with the permitted building height and after submitting to the YCDC meeting on 29 August 2016 approved construction of the building at the proposed height of basement+8.5 storey/96 feet.U Kyaw Min Hlaing of Uttarathiri constituency asked, “Is there consideration to abrogate the classification of settlements and farmlands in Uttarathiri Township as forestry areas?” To this Union Minister U Ohn Win from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation replied that in the (7/2016) meeting decision clause (11) conducted in Nay Pyi Taw on 16 June 2016 that 12 designated villages in Uttarathiri Township and 49 villages in Nay Pyi Taw Council’s vicinity were taken off the list of over 50 villages and farmlands include in the 2014 survey on illegal tenants in Nay Pyi Taw Council’s Area, and were approved as agricultural farmlands and horticultural zones with the granting system of longterm grants still in function. He further explained that after careful inspection of the 6,838.483 acres in the Nay Pyi Taw Council forestry area, 807.736 acres of village lands, farmlands and public areas will be cleared from being listed as forestry areas. Also the remaining 1,570.367 acre in Uttarathiri Township will be permitted as agricultural lands for local residents and long-term grants for 50.94 acres of horticultural zones will be permitted as well. Later, Union Minister U Ohn Win and Union Election Commission Chairman U Hla Thein responded to questions posed by U Sai Oo Kham from Hsenwi constituency and U Win Thein Zaw from Salinger constituency. Daw Mi Kun Chan from Paung constituency induced the Union government to name the Thanlwin bridge connecting Mawlamyine and Changwon “Bogyoke Aung San Bridge” in honour of the late national leader, to which U Tin Ko Ko Oo from Belin constituency voiced his approval and Hluttaw Speaker announced that Hluttaw representatives wishing to discuss on this matter could put down their name on the waiting list. Nine Hluttaw representatives discussed a matter presented by U Khin Cho from Hlaingbwe constituency: “I would like to urge the Union Government to promote the bamboo plantation industry.” U Saw Victor Clyde from Thandaunggyi constituency said that if we were to review cutting down of trees and bamboo from the times of designating wild and vacant lands as outside the protected area, we would find that private companies holding long-term grants for teak and other hardwood, long term crops, and mixed forestry plantations and other such private companies deal in irresponsible deforestation and little to no reforestation efforts resulting in damage in the ecosystem and climate change. “This is why it is necessary to review the companies that were granted long-term grants and halt the ones that bring harm to the natural ecosystem and brings down the profit of the Nation. If we were to properly work together with the people and government departments concerned and systematically plant bamboo and trees in deforested lands, in a short time we can revitalize the landscape back into a lush and thriving scene, especially the planting of species of bamboo in appropriate districts and regions will help preserve the soil and prevent soil erosion and landslides,” U Saw Victor Clyde said. To this appeal, eight Hluttaw representatives engaged in a discussion with Union Minister U Ohm Win, after which the Hluttaw Speaker with approval from the majority of the Pyithu Hluttaw Announced approval of the appeal.

Reference: GNLM

March 1, 2017

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