As Rakhine State’s Mrauk-U expands with the ballooning needs of a modern, urban center, local politicians are proposing moving it to a new location away from the ancient capital, which is in the process of bidding for world heritage status.
The “new city” project would entail relocating the modern city of Mrauk-U to a 2,700-acre site near the road to Kayuktaw, according to U Aung Kyaw Zan, the Rakhine State Minister of Electricity, Industry and Transportation.
A draft proposal was submitted to the state parliament by MP U Tun Thar Sein from Mrauk U Constituency 1. The plan was discussed in hluttaw on July 13.
“We will start with planning for 500 acres of land. Then we will reveal the plans for the project to the public and continue to carry it out,” Minister U Aung Kyaw Zan told the MPs.
He added that Mrauk-U is currently located within the ancient archaeological zone, and said the city has become “ugly” due to overpopulation, flooding, the disappearance of cannels, the mushrooming shantytowns that have cropped up adjacent to the stream and the continual problems with the garbage disposal system.
“Mrauk-U is full of ancient buildings and we are currently working together with UNESCO to apply for adding it to the World Heritage list,” he said. The new city relocation project would allow the urban center to thrive and pursue economic growth without bringing it into confrontation with the attempts to conserve the ancient heritage, he added.
Mrauk-U was built in the 15th century and was the capital for the Arakanese Kingdom until 1784 when the Burmese conquered it.
The Department of Urban and Housing Development proposed a Mrauk-U new city project in 2015 under the previous administration. At the time, the proposed location was discovered to be problematic as it was on a floodplain too near the Lemro River, and was also still within the vicinity of the ancient zone.