Vermont Law School at the ECD, MOECAF in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar

Martin Cosier, Vermont Law School with ECD Myanmar.

Martin Cosier, Vermont Law School, and Matthew Baird, Environmental Counsel, attended the Environment and Conservation Department of the Myanmar Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation in Nay Pyi Taw in April 2016. This visit was part of an ongoing program to conduct a series of EIA Clinic with the staff of ECD. The EIA Clinic is funded by HBS Myanmar. This is the third year of the EIA Clinics. The aim of the program is to provide practical experience and training  in EIA assessment to ECD.

Cambodia – Draft EIA Law for Community Consultation

The draft EIA law is available for public consultation and comment.

Revised Draft Cambodia EIA law Eng 27 Feb 2014 – Clean

 

27th LAWASIA Conference The Early Bird Rate for registrations to the 27th LAWASIA Conference has been extended.*

Early Bird Rate – extended
27th LAWASIA Conference

The Early Bird Rate for registrations to the 27th LAWASIA Conference has been extended.*

http://lawasia.asn.au/Registration_2014_Bangkok

 

 

A three-storey limitation on new buildings meant to preserve a view of Shwedagon pagoda will block several high-rise projects along the river

yar-thit-chaung

Tuesday, 11 February 2014              Copyright © 2014 The Myanmar Times. All rights reserved.

A BAN on high-rise buildings that block the view of Yangon’s iconic Shwedagon pagoda has forced Myanmar Port Authority (MPA) to abandon parts of its waterfront development plan, government officials said.

The plan, drawn up in 2012, envisaged upgrading port facilities as well as the construction of a shopping mall, including a number of 10- and 12-storey buildings, for which some tenders have already been invited.

However in the last week of January YCDC submitted the draft Yangon Land Use and Buildings Height Zoning Plans to parliament for approval. The plan would limit building heights along the waterfront to three storeys.

“According to YCDC, no buildings higher than three storeys can be built on the waterfront, especially in Botahtaung, Pansodan port and the Nan Thi Dar jetty area because tall buildings block the views of the city’s sights. So we have to stop some projects,” U Htein Lin, a spokesperson for Myanmar Port Authority, told The Myanmar Times.

Ministry of Construction planner Daw Hlaing Maw Oo said that YCDC imposed the three-storey limit in some waterfront areas to ensure that visitors entering the city along the Yangon River could see Shwedagon pagoda.

“Shwedagon is the main image of Yangon. It should be visible from Botahtaung and Pansodan Port, and high-rise buildings would block the view,” she said.

The YCDC already has in place construction height limits in various parts of the city to protect views of the iconic pagoda. New buildings in Dagon township in particular are generally capped at six storeys to protect the prime views.

Currently, building heights from Sule Pagoda to the Botahtaung waterfront area are capped at three stories. The city stretch includes the Water Front Special Development Zone, Urban Heritage Conservation Are and the so-called “green” and “blue” zones in Botahtung and Kyauktada townships.

“We will not allow high buildings of government projects or other private construction if they are contained in these three zones,” U Nay Win, deputy director of the building department of YCDC, said. “If [construction is] not in these three zones or even the two townships, they can build high-rises.”

The original port authority plan covered parts of the downtown Botahtaung, Pansodan, Latha, Lanmadaw and Ahlone townships, said U Nay Win.

“We limited building height in order to preserve urban resources and to retain the city’s image. There is a place elsewhere for high-rise buildings,” he said.

But the ban will hamper the development of the port area, said MPA engineer U Mya Than.

“We want to develop the port area to international standards to maximise revenues. If we can’t carry out the development plan, it could cost us profit,” he said, adding that the port authority had to explain the reasons for the ban to companies who had received

tenders.

MPA has not yet started any construction in this area for high -rise buildings as the tender and selection process for development companies is still under way. MPA sources said that while plans for high rise construction had already been drawn up, planning would be paused while the new building heights passed through parliament.

MPA sources said the drastically reduced building height would cause the authority to go back to the drawing board with its budget for the ambitious waterfront development.

Planned construction in the area included an extended river bank in Botahtaung area to create about 100 feet (30 metres) of additional land into the Yangon River to build a resort and public park. The Sule Port was scheduled for an international-standard upgrade to allow bigger container ships to dock and nearby the Nan Thi Dar jetty was in line for a high-class makeover to house modern residential and commercial spaces.

 

Copyright © 2014 The Myanmar Times. All rights reserved.

Yangon’s heritage The way the old capital crumbles: The Economist

The Economist

 

IN THE unlit streets of Yangon the old buildings loom like phantoms from another time and place. On their crumbling facades grime, mildew and the seedlings of various trees and ferns jostle for space. Despite it all, they are standing, as they have been for more than a century, like defiant, alien giants, unable or unwilling to shift.

This was perhaps the intention of the British builders who put these grand old offices in this tropical setting. The buildings became a mark of their wealth and power, and of the ambition to build an empire on which the sun would never set. On more recent mornings however, as the city outside stirs to life, the sound of sledge hammers is never far off.

Since Myanmar’s new government has embraced political and economic reform—and most Western countries lifted sanctions—its commercial centre has become a hot destination for international investors. The acute need for office space, luxury apartments and hotels has inflated property prices and led to a building boom.

Every time I visit Yangon more buildings have disappeared, sometimes even entire streets. And as the cityscape changes, it is hard not to feel nostalgic.

In a region that has lost much of its architectural heritage Yangon is the last city to have its colonial core intact. This is not the result of any deliberate policy; simply many years of stagnancy and neglect. The situation became more dramatic after 2005, when the military junta then ruling the country moved the capital to Naypyidaw, some 320km (200 miles) north of Yangon. The abandoned colonial-era administrative buildings became even more dilapidated.

But even today, walking through the streets of Yangon’s business district, it is not too hard to imagine the cosmopolitan atmosphere the whole city once exuded. Even before 1852 when the British incorporated Rangoon, as they called the town, into the Raj, it had been a regional pilgrimage centre. Its main draw then was the golden Shwedagon pagoda, which still dominates the city’s skyline.

After the British plundered the Shwedagon, which they occupied as a military base, they rebuilt the lower section of the town on a geometrical grid. In the following years Yangon became a nexus of trade and one of the busiest ports in the British empire.

The British Raj frowned upon mixing up styles within a single city’s architecture. They told their consulting architect James Ransome “not to put up any Mongrel buildings” and instructed him to style “Calcutta Classic, Bombay Gothic, Madras Saracenic, Rangoon Renaissance”. Though some of these styles were themselves hybrid, famous British architects took pains to design buildings for Yangon that would not stand out of place in central London or Liverpool.

The busy port attracted people from around the world. At the beginning of the 20th century there were more immigrants than local people living in Yangon’s business district. They brought with them their own customs and religions. Their mosques, churches and even a synagogue stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Hindu temples and Sikh gurdwaras, together outnumbering the Buddhist pagodas.

The most prestigious business address was Lower Pansodan street (then called Phayre street). Big banks, offices and department stores occupied imposing buildings. One of the most famous was named for the Sofaer family, the Jewish traders from Baghdad who built it. In its heyday the Sofaer building housed shops that sold imported luxuries like liqueurs and cigarettes; a Viennese coffee shop; a Japanese hospital; and the Reuters news agency.

The building is, like many others, currently in a desperate state of disrepair. Squatters live in the lift shaft, a teashop owner runs his café in one of the corridors and on the top floor families crowd squalid rooms.

Another reminder of the British Raj is the Pegu Club. Its teak halls were once a favourite hangout for British officers, the kind of “whites only” places George Orwell describes in “Burmese Days”. It was at the Pegu Club that Rudyard Kipling lunched and listened to soldiers who told him the stories that later would inspire his famous “Road to Mandalay” poem. Now the fans hang silent in the dining rooms and the leaks from the roof have rotted the parquet floors.

The Pegu Club, the Sofaer and another 187 buildings, including the historically important Secretariat, are officially listed for conservation. Some have already been leased to developers who plan to turn them into posh hotels and modern offices. But for the Yangon Heritage Trust, which has been advocating a comprehensive zoning plan, saving a few iconic buildings is not enough. Their vision is to modernise the town while preserving its character. This means, says Thant Myint-U, the Trust’s founder and chairman, that not only the architecture but also the social fabric of the town should be taken into account in any future plans.

In the race against time to safeguard Yangon’s heritage the next few years will be critical. If a balanced development plan, backed by zoning and conservation laws, is put in place and implemented, Yangon could become a great tourist destination. But if developers are given free play, and ruthless modernisation mirrors the rest of the region, Yangon could start to look like any other big city in South-East Asia.

Public Participation Meeting on Draft EIA law for Cambodia

Workshop on draft EIA Law, Siem Reap, Cambodia, December 2013.

Another public workshop was held by the Ministry of Environment and Vishnu Law Group to consider comments on the draft EIA Law. This was held in Siam Reap from 24 to 26 December 2103. Over 120 participants provided comments and suggestions on the draft EIA Law. For more information on the EIA project see the Vishnu Law Group webpage.

Workshop on draft EIA Law, Siem Reap, Cambodia, December 2013.

Visit to Yangon Heritage Trust Offices

Merchant Street in Rangoon is seen in this 19th century photograph, now on display at the Yangon Heritage Trust on Pansodan Street . (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

On Monday 27 January 2014, I visited the offices of the Yangon Heritage Trust.  As a long-time member of the National Trust (NSW) and a Life-member of the Hunters Hill Trust, I am completely supportive of the attempts by the YHT to protect and preserve the heritage values of Yangon.

An exhibition of historic photos is on display at the Offices of the YHT, 22-24 Pansodan Street, Yangon until February 28th.

Merchant Street in Rangoon is seen in this 19th century photograph, now on display at the Yangon Heritage Trust on Pansodan Street . (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

[Read more…]

Second South Asia Judicial Roundtable on Environmental Justice (Thimphu, Bhutan), 29 -31 August 2013.

AJNE Bhutan

I was honoured to be able to present a presentation on the Key Principles of EIA Law to the Chief Justices Roundtable on Environmental Justice in Thimpu, Bhutan in August 2013.

Matthew Baird Key Principles of EIA Bhutan 2103

Another day, another ecological disaster in China.

china-articleLarge

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/06/world/asia/huge-algae-bloom-afflicts-qingdao-china.html?smid=fb-share

 

BEIJING — In what has become an annual summer scourge, the coastal Chinese city of Qingdao has been hit by a near-record algae bloom that has left its popular beaches fouled with a green, stringy muck.

The State Oceanic Administration said an area larger than Connecticut had been affected by the mat of “sea lettuce,” as it is known in Chinese, which is generally harmless to humans but chokes off marine life and invariably chases away tourists as it begins to rot.

Some beachgoers appeared to be amused by the outbreak, at least according to the Chinese news media, which in recent days have featured images of swimmers lounging on bright green beds of algae, tossing it around with glee or piling it atop of one another as if it were sand.

Local officials, however, are less enthusiastic. Last month, they declared a “large-scale algae disaster,” sending hundreds of boats and bulldozers to clean up the waters off Qingdao, a former German concession in Shandong Province that is famous for its beer and beaches. As of Monday, about 19,800 tons of the algae had been cleared, the Qingdao government said. While valued for its nutrition — or as an ingredient in fertilizers and biomass energy production — algae in large quantities can prove dangerous as it decomposes, producing toxic hydrogen sulfide gas. It also smells like rotten eggs.

The green tide, spread over 7,500 square miles, is thought to be twice the size of an outbreak in 2008 that threatened sailing events during the Beijing Olympics, which took place near Qingdao. Officials deployed boats, helicopters and 10,000 workers to keep the waters clear for the competition.

The cleanup costs were later estimated at more than $30 million. Abalone, clam and sea cucumber farms suffered more than $100 million in damage, according to a 2011 study by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences. A 2009 outbreak was bigger.

NYT

Qingdao’s algae is generally harmless to humans, but not marine life. NYT

LAWASIA 2012, Bali, Indonesia – Sustainable Tourism

LAWASIA 2012 - Sustainable Tourism | Matthew Baird

LAWASIA 2012 - Sustainable Tourism | Matthew BairdLAWASIA 2012 – Sustainable Tourism

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