By SALAI THANT ZIN / THE IRRAWADDY| Thursday, August 27, 2015 |
RANGOON — The Chin State government has requested a grant of more than 20 billion kyats (US$15.5 million) from the Union government for rehabilitation projects in the flood-battered northwestern state.
The remote and mountainous region, home to about 478,000 people, suffered severe economic losses due to recent floods and landslides that destroyed some 2,000 of the state’s buildings and damaged many of its roads, further complicating recovery.
“We’ve submitted a proposal to the Union government for more than 20 billion kyats required for rehabilitation,” Chin State Forestry Minister Kyaw Nyein told The Irrawaddy. “We hope the government will grant it as the President [Thein Sein] has said that rehabilitation is imperative in these [severely damaged] places.”
Structures including houses, schools, religious buildings, bridges and government offices were affected by the extreme weather leading up to and throughout the landing of Cyclone Komen in Bangladesh on July 30.
The hardest hit areas were the state capital Hakha, Matupi, Mindat, Paletwa, Tedim and Tonzang, according to the state government. More than 950 buildings were destroyed in Paletwa alone, and more than 800 in Hakha.
The minister said the proposed funding would cover rebuilding of education and health facilities, departmental offices, transport routes and homes. The state has already prepared about 4,000 tons of wood for reconstruction projects, he added.
Transportation of relief materials has been difficult in the wake of the disaster, he said, as the states entire road network suffered serious damage. The state government has already carried out minor repairs on the Kale-Falam-Hakha highway, which links the state capital to central Burma, and the Hakha-Thantlang road. Both are now open for small vehicles. The Hakha-Matupi and Hakha-Gangaw roads are still out of service, the minister said.
Due to the difficulty of reaching certain areas, the state government is now delivering food aid, makeshift tents and other relief items to Matupi via Mindat and to Paletwa by way of Kyauktaw in neighboring Arakan State.
Recovery efforts are currently focused on delivering food and other essential items, according to the minister, while rebuilding efforts are expected to begin in mid-October at the end of the monsoon season.
At present, the state has registered 375 collapsed or damaged houses in Hakha and another 318 found unfit for habitation. Those households, located in three wards deemed to be in danger of future catastrophe, are to be relocated to another part of the town, according to Hakha Township administrator Thein Zaw.
The relocation site, near the entrance to the capital, was originally slated for a police training academy, will be evaluated and built up for residential purposes as soon as possible, he said.
“It’s not that the entire town needs to be moved,” said Thein Zaw, referring to earlier rumors that the capital could be relocated to another township. “As the Hakha-Gangaw road is still out of commission it is difficult to bring in building materials. We’ll work to build those homes as soon as possible.”
More than 5,000 residents of the capital remain homeless and sheltering at Khaing Hall, No. 1 Basic Education High School, local churches and seven emergency camps throughout the town, locals said, where they are provided with food and tents by the state government.
A grassroots relief movement has also grown out of the ethnic Chin diaspora throughout the region. For in northern Thailand, a fundraiser will be held on Friday, Aug. 28 in Chiang Mai, with proceeds channeled directly to the Chin Committee on Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation.