The Chin State government in western Burma is considering relocating large portions of the state capital, Hakha, after it was devastated by recent landslides and monsoonal flooding.
The Chin State government Finance Minister Nan Zamon told DVB: “Cracks appeared in the ground of five of six wards in the town, and they need to be relocated. Four geologists are on their way to Hakha, by arrangement of the regional government. They are expected to arrive today [Tuesday]”.
He said the regional government would set up an office in Kalay [Kale], in neighbouring Sagaing Division, to organise and collect donations for the planned relocation. Authorities have not confirmed the official resettlement site, but the finance minister indicated it might be near Falam, a town 60 kilometres north of Hakha.
“There is good soil outside the town on the way to Falam, and the geologists will go on field trips there to study whether it will be sustainable in the long term,” he said.
Ba Maung Ko, the regional Minister of Social Welfare, told DVB that geologists had previously predicted Hakha was likely to suffer the worst damage by future landslides.
“Firstly, I would like to talk about Hakha’s geography. In the past, there was a landslide affecting the entire village of Zalai, near Falam. We invited geologists who warned that Hakha is also one of the areas most likely to be affected by landslides along the Chin range. We are seeing about half the town’s population in need of relocation – their side of town along the cliff is no longer safe,” he said.
“We are looking to build new neighbourhoods for them on the roads to Htantalan and Falam. We estimate about half of the town’s population will be relocated in no longer than six months.”
Around 600 homes in Hakha, including those in the wards of Pyidawtha, Myohaung, Zaythit and Kyaukbok, were destroyed by recent floods and landslides. Another 100 homes and schools in nearby villages Kwathe, Be-Othe, and Manu were also damaged, according to the Hakha Rescue Committee. Displaced local residents are taking shelter in relief camps throughout the town.
Chin State is the least developed state among the 14 administrative regions in Burma, with some of the highest levels of poverty in Burma. Monsoonal flooding and landslides in combination with Cyclone Komen have crippled 12 of the 14 regions, with Chin and Arakan states being hit the hardest.
Read more on the 2015 floods here