A group of rural villagers living west of Rangoon said they are forming a petition to protest plans to build an extensive residential and commercial development on 30,000 acres (121 sq.km) of land in their area.
Local residents of Ton Tay [Twante] Township told DVB that they will send their petition to the Burmese president.
“They will destroy the paddy fields and we will have rice shortages,” said local farmer Aung Pe. “Many of the people here know only about farming. They have no other livelihood. I think that some rich people are buying out the farmers. It is completely unacceptable, We are forming a petition among all the villagers who disagree with this new city project and will send it to President Thein Sein.”
Since the announcement by Rangoon’s divisional parliament on 22 August of the plan to build a massive project in the rural area immediately west of Rangoon, land prices have skyrocketed in areas earmarked for development.
Locals also complain that brokers and investors have descended upon the villages in question – especially Kyi-Myin-Taing, Seik-Gyi-Kha-Naung-To and Twante, all located five to 15km southwest and west of the Rangoon River – offering cash sums to farmers to sell their land.
But many of the farmers are worried that selling out will leave them jobless.
“I work part-time on a farm,” said Khin May, a villager from nearby Than Phyu Yon. “This is the only job I can get. If they sell their farms, I will have no employment. Now all the prices are going up and up. Soon all the farmland will be gone.”
A Rangoon broker told DVB last week that plots of land have increased more than tenfold since the plan was unveiled. The value of land situated close to the Twante main road has hit highs of 100 million baht (US$100,000) per acre.
Criticism has also been directed at the divisional authorities for a lack of transparency and for not disclosing details of the proposal for the development earlier.
Rangoon divisional government announced on 28 August that it would call for tender bids for the project, following media reports that the development project had already been contracted to Myanma Setana Myothit Public Company.
In 2008, DVB reported that some 600 families in Ton Tay Township had been ordered to move out so that their properties could be demolished and the land used for new homes for cyclone victims.