Dispossessed farmers are taking to the courts to retrieve land they say is theirs, mounting a prosecution against construction companies building low-cost housing there.

The homes are being built on the Ingalaing compound along the Kyan Sit Min Road in Hlaing Tharyar township, Yangon.

The project is the responsibility of the construction ministry’s Department of Urban and Housing Development, which has vowed to fight the lawsuit.

“We undertook this project after a careful examination of the situation,” DUHD director general U Min Htein said. “We are within the law, so [the protesters] can say what they want.”

Nearly 300 acres were seized in 1989 by the then-military regime to establish Hlaing Tharyar city, including homes and offices. The farmers say the Kyan Sit Min project is under construction on a separate 100-acre plot they used to own.

“These lands belonged to my father. When I got married, he gave them to me. I have documents showing it to be farmland as recently as 2015, as repeatedly verified by the courts. The [military] government seized 293 of the 404 acres, and [the DUHD] is building on the remaining 100-plus acres,” said farmer U Kyi Thaung, one of the plaintiffs in the action.

When the government announced in 2012 that it would build low-cost housing on the site, 10 farmers protested to the construction minister and launched a lawsuit against the construction firms involved.

U Min Aung Aye, deputy director of the DUHD’s housing development division, said on October 3, “Kyan Sit Min is being built on the 293 acres cited in the original land confiscation order. There is no remaining farmland. If the farmers take us to court, we will respond in court.”

The farmers say they decided in 2015 to direct their lawsuit at the construction companies involved in the project.

“We decided to go after the construction firms because of the legal complexities. Suing the government, the DUHD, would be extremely complex and time-consuming,” said one of the plaintiffs. “We can document our ownership of this real estate. Our prosecution concerns the land not included in the original 293 acres of land that was subject to the confiscation order.”

“It looks like they are confusing the 100 acres of this site with the 293 acres of Ingalaing field that was originally confiscated. That confiscation order is now expired,” he said, adding that he owned 6 acres of the whole.

The DUHD says the Kyan Sit Min low-cost housing project is divided into two parts, and will provide 3000 apartments.

Translation by Khine Thazin Han and Emoon

Link: http://www.mmtimes.com/index.php/national-news/yangon/23059-farmers-protest-low-cost-housing-project-in-yangon.html