Local Youth Campaign for Relocation of Indian Seaport in Sittwe

Local youth reportedly launched a brochure campaign on 4 January that demands relocation of the seaport being constructed by India in Sittwe, the capital of western Burma’s Arakan State, to another appropriate location.

“It is a very open campaign and I found the youths distributing the brochures to everyone in Myoma Market this morning and they have continued the distribution almost everywhere in the town as well,” said U Aung Mra Kyaw, a legislator in the State Parliament from Sittwe.

He said there are accounts of environmental damage and trouble for residents caused by the port project and the demands for relocating the port in the brochure. “It is written in the brochure that because of the port project, widespread environmental damage is occurring, local people are troubled and the area of Mungreekyauktan where people used to walk and rest is already damaged, along with the demand to shift the port to another place from the town,” he said.

U Aung Mra Kyaw said no action was taken against the youth by authorities despite their open campaign against the port.

According to the local residents, the Indian Essar Company has been constructing the port by filling in land in the area of Mungreekyauktan in downtown Sittwe. The natural beauty of Point Beach in Sittwe has also been damaged as the company is taking sand it needs from the beach for landfill at the port construction site.

Aung Kyaw Myint, a youth from Kyepungree Ward in Sittwe who is involved in the campaign, said they have demanded they shift the port to another location because the town’s people are suffering losses and trouble since the port construction started.

“Mungreekyauktan was created for the recreation of people since Sittwe was built as the capital, and it has now disappeared under the port. That is a great loss for our town’s people. Now it is also troubling to the nearby hospital, which is the only one in our town. The patients in the hospital are being disturbed and troubled by the noise and dust coming from the day and night construction of the port. That is why we have to demand they shift the port to another place away from the town,” said Aung Kyaw Myint.

He said dissatisfaction over the port is growing among residents as the Essar Company, the main builder of the port, has been building the port without care for the trouble of the people and environmental damages it is causing in the town.

Dr. Aye Maung, Chairman of the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, a leading political party in Arakan State, also mentioned in his New Year message that his party would take necessary actions to shift the site of the port from the main town to another place as it has been hurting every aspect of the town.