The government of Kachin State announced it won’t sign a second MoU for the Nam Jim economic zone with a Chinese company during a press conference.
Instead, Wai Lin, Kachin State finance minister says plans are underway to pursue a domestic tender for the land development project outside of Myitkyina.
The Myitkyina Economic Development Zone Committee (MEDZC) signed the MoU with Yunnan Tengchong Heng Yong Investment Company (YTHIC) in 2018.
“It’s a joint venture and clear instructions and guidelines were laid down in the president’s order. When implementing the project, first, there must be full transparency. A presidential order issued on August 30, 2019 clearly stated the instructions and guidelines relating to land and buildings,” Wai Lin told KNG.
Farmers are unhappy that their land was included in the Nam Jim economic zone without obtaining their consent.
“They (Kachin State government) should explain why they intended to seize farmland there before they explained the project. It caused enormous suffering for locals,” said Galnet, who’s a lawyer.
Over 600 acres of a herb plantation are part of the economic zone, he told KNG. After learning their land was slated for development as part of the Nam Jim economic zone it was expected they would be properly compensated, Galnet said.
La Htoi, from Nam Jim village, told KNG his farm was included in the project. “We want officials to explain to us the benefits of this economic zone project before they start it,” he says. He wants assurance that the “Nang Kwe stream will still flow as usual” should the project proceed.
Many other residents of Nam Jim Village said the government has not been transparent about the economic zone. And they want compensation for their farmlands.
Wai Lin told KNG they planned to brief all residents living in the economic zone about the project at a later date. “We haven’t explained it to them until today because we haven’t selected developers for this project…We’re reviewing all policies related to this project. Once we complete it, we will explain the project to them.”
After the government chooses a successful tender company, they will sign another MoU, he says.
The Nam Jim economic zone, located 8 miles west of Myitkyina, encompasses 4,700 acres. The government provided compensation for 1,886 acres, but nothing for the rest of the land.
The previous Thein Sein government planned an economic zone for three locations, including Maina village in Waingmaw Township, but never started it.