President Thein Sein visited Chin State’s capital Hakha on Wednesday to pledge support for locals left homeless by recent floods and landslides.
The Burmese leader stressed his government’s commitment to resettle locals whose homes were damaged or destroyed by landslides triggered by the cyclonic wind and rains that struck western Burma between June and August this year.
At least five or six neighbourhoods in Hakha face total relocation due to extensive damage to homes during the landslides. Some 500 to 1,000 persons are currently being provided shelter while seismic teams inspect two new locations outside the city.
Thein Sein said he is aware that time is running out to provide adequate resettlement solutions ahead of the approaching winter season.
“The president gave us words of encouragement and pledged to provide us with new homes before the winter comes,” said resident Za Aung, adding that Thein Sein promised to ensure suitable living standards for the locals in their new locations, with access to water, electricity, education and health care.
However the scale of the devastation caused to Hakha suggests the relocation project will be a lengthy one.
“We have chosen spots for new homes but as of now, work has yet to began – the area is yet to be cleared,” Za Aung said.
According to the government, over 1,100 homes were destroyed by landslides in seven Chin state towns including Hakha, Tedim, Tonzan and Paletwa. Subsequent studies revealed many homes in the region were lying on unsteady ground and needed to be relocated.
Around 1,800 homes are now set for relocation, including 580 in Paletwa, 340 in Hakha and over 370 in Tedim.
Large swathes of Chin State were devastated during the monsoonal disaster, which claimed the lives of over 117 people, forced 1.6 million from their homes and destroyed some 800,000 acres of farmland, according to the Burmese government.
Chin State is regarded as Burma’s poorest and least developed region, making restoration efforts particularly difficult.