By Eleven Myanmar
The people who claim to work for the Forestry Department take Ks250,000 from every deal, sources say.
A farmer in Tarlawgyi village in Myitkyina said: “Chinese proprietors buy and lease land from legitimate owners at first. Since the village is near protected forest, some villagers have fenced the land in the forests to claim it. Some supposed forestry officials come and ask for about Ks200,000 from every land deal. Many areas in Malaw forest have been occupied with banana plantations. Forests are thinning [and mingling with human settlements]. The residents have started invading the Aranama forest. I think thousands of acres in Tarlawgyi are going to be covered with Chinese bananas. Trees are being bulldozed.”
Malaw forest stretches for 13,120 acres and Aranama 10,600 acres.They are two of the five protected forest areas in Myitkyina.
Aung Myat, director of the Kachin State forestry department, said: “We haven’t permitted anyone to grow bananas in protected forests in Kachin State. We can’t allow doing so. No one has reported the issue to us.”
The law regarding protected forests forbids inhabiting the forest, feeding cattle in it, changing the landscape by logging or digging the ground, dropping poison or chemicals in forest rivers, hunting and making fires in the forest.
The punishments for violating the law are six months in prison or a Ks5,000 fine.
From last April to February, bananas were grown across 27,850 acres in Kachin State. The state is home to over 760,000 acres of arable land.