SEZs under scrutiny

Of the long list of challenges inherited by the new government when it took office in April, among the most expensive and ambitious are the special economic zones planned for Yangon and on each side of the country, on the Indian Ocean.

Conceived when Myanmar was still under military rule, the three multi-million-dollar SEZs – at Thilawa in Yangon Region, Dawei in Tanintharyi Region and Kyaukphyu in Rakhine State – have faced accusations of land grabbing and a disregard for transparency.

PM must stick to his promise

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha reiterated the country's commitment to sustainable development to representatives of the G77, a coalition of developing countries in the United Nations, at the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday.

As the current chairman of G77, he urged member countries to do the same and work together to promote sustainable development.

Last September, the premier also told the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York that he supported pro-people, inclusive development that respects the rule of law.

Now he must prove true to his words.

Locals protest fast-track plants

Environmental activists and local communities affected by development and power plant projects have renewed calls for the prime minister to revoke his orders speeding up the approval process for them.

They gathered Tuesday at the Office of the Public Sector Development Commission, opposite Government House, to renew their calls. The protest group consisted of some 100 activists and residents from various provinces, including Krabi, Chachoengsao and Pathum Thani.

PM confirms SEZ assessments

Environmental and health assessments must be conducted before the construction of power plants despite orders issued under Section 44 to clear the way for the development of 10 special economic zones (SEZs), Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha confirmed yesterday.

The premier asserted that construction of power plants will depend on environment and health impact assessment (EHIA) reports and environmental impact assessment (EIA) studies.

Suspicion hangs over SEZ rush

The second phase of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) will start in Chiang Rai, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Phanom, Narathiwat and Nong Khai provinces this year.

Residents in Chiang Khong district of Chiang Rai recently formed a conservation group to protect a 3,000-rai forest zone in Ban Boon Reung, targeted for the second phase.

The area is one of the most abundant wetlands in the north. It produces food, holds water run-off and sustains the Ing River, a tributary of the Mekong.

SEZ proposals strike fear in villagers

NO HEAVY industry will be promoted in the proposed special economic zones (SEZs) in the border provinces, government officials have emphasised.

However, locals near the proposed economic zone in Tak's Mae Sot district said they feared their livelihoods would soon be changed forever as people in two villages would have to move away from their land.

They were also worried about the future environmental impact of the industrial estates.