Locals are concerned about the construction of hotels in Chin State’s Tedim Township, following a news leak revealing an application for permission by major companies to develop the area.
According to the leak, the Tin Win Tun and Myat Noe Thu companies aim to establish a “hotel zone” in the western part of Tiangen village in Khawsak village tract.
In 2012, Tin Win Tun reportedly got permission to temporarily use a land plot between Zozan and Sozan villages in Tedim to store oil for use in vehicles, as well as to keep heavy machinery and construction vehicles. The company was then engaged in a vehicle construction project but completed it in 2015, yet remained on the land in question.
The Tin Win Tun company then reportedly applied for permission to use the land plot in accordance with the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law—citing the location as the site of a future international hotel.
This is why local people are so worried, explained GS Mang, director of the organization Area Peace and Development Forward, which has been consulting locals about the potential project. Representatives of the Zomi Student and Youth Organization, Mwetaung Region Development Group, and other local civil society groups have also been involved in community outreach and are concerned about the area’s future.
“Current land laws in Myanmar do not protect the land ownership of ethnic people,” GS Mang said. “Current land laws exploit the customary ownership of ethnic people. The government should not allow any project that hurts ethnic people.”
The land plot in question covers five acres—and is divided between Tin Win Tun and Myat Noe Thu companies. While construction has not yet begun, the companies have fenced in the area, which includes forest and a watershed area long protected by locals. The area has also been designated the Mogyo Forest area by the government.
Tiangen village has 25 households and a population of just over 100 people, who largely survive by cultivating vegetables and fruits and running small restaurants catering to travelers. It is located on the national highway linking Kalay, Sagaing Region, to Falam, Hakha, Tedim, Rihkhawdar and Chikha towns.