Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC) said last week that it will go ahead with plans to demolish nine homes in Chan Mya Tharsi township to make way for a road extension project, despite petitions from the people who live there.
The families met with the committee last week in an effort to save their homes, but were told they must leave to make way for the demolition.
So far 24 other homes along the section of the Mandalay-Sagaing Road have been demolished by MCDC, which claims the families were squatting illegally. It says it notified all 33 households in 2008 and has since brought legal action against those who have refused to move.
“Out of 33 illegal houses built in the road area, 24 were demolished. So the rest, the nine houses left, [we will] continue to demolish,” said MCDC secretary U Khin Maung Tint.
The residents who live on plots 498 and 500 along the highway were told by MCDC officials at the township administration office that they were squatting illegally. The officials also explained the laws relating to buildings, warehouses and land restrictions in the neighbourhood.
The residents petitioned the officials to conduct a thorough land survey and review their decision, arguing that their houses were at least 1.8 metres (6 feet) away from the road’s drains. But MCDC’s secretary refused, insisting the land is part of the road’s perimeter.
U Maung Maung Lay, who is in his 60s and whose home is on the demolition list, complained that there was no fairness regarding the ways in which people obtain legal ownership of their houses. He suggested that only those with the most influence secured such privileges.
“In 1991, we paid several times with the hope of getting an official ownership document,” U Maung Maung Lay said. “We were never granted any legal ownership, but others who live in the area like us were already given legal ownership. I’ve lived here all my life.”
He added that he now wonders where he will live if his house is destroyed.
Ko Myo Gyi, another resident whose house is on the demolition list, agreed that they were being treated unfairly.
“There are houses that sit on the road to the west but the authorities turned a blind eye to them. So this is dishonest behaviour. It seems there is something of a personal relationship in this issue,” he said.
But MCDC denied the claims.
“We are not doing this for the sake of personal relationships,” U Khing Maung Tint said. “It is impossible to grant legal ownership documents to those living in the road area, and those who apparently received ownership will also be re-scrutinised.”
Translation by Zar Zar Soe