Burmese billionaire Tay Za wants Putao land

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KNG News - Kachin News Group

A firm owned by the Burmese billionaire tycoon Tay Za has requested government officials to grant 600,000 acres (240,000 hectare) of land in northern Kachin's state Putao (also Putau) region for a gold mining project. Tay Za who is the owner of Htoo Trading and many other related firms has extensive business interests across Burma. He is well known for his cozy relationship with former regime leader General Than Shwe.

A Putao based source that didn’t want their name used told the Kachin News Group to have personally seen detailed documents that were submitted to a local government office by Tay Za's firm asking to acquire the title of the large swathe of land that is spread over three townships: Putao, Machyangbaw and Nawng Mun. The document that included detailed exploration maps was submitted some time last year, according to the source.

In late August Burma army troops and a pro-government militia group attacked a Kachin Independence Army (KIA) battalion 7 outpost near Nhka Ga village in Machyangbaw Township. The fighting in Nhka Ga was concentrated on the east bank of the Mali Hka river an area that was included in Tay Za’s application. According to Machyangbaw residents, the local Burma military command based in Putao has continued the military campaign to drive KIA forces from Nhka Ga to give the territory to the pro-government Ahdang militia.

The militia is named after a Rawang business man that heads the group. Over the past few years Ahdang, a former senior member in the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K), tried several times to establish a base for his militia in Nhka Ga, but reportedly failed because local villagers strongly opposed both him and his group.

Tay Za has extensive business interests in the Putao region, a mountainous area known to be rich in natural resources including timber, gold and other minerals. The Irrawaddy magazine recently reported that the billionaire was recently given a 100,000 acre logging concession in the Putao District. This area includes a long stretch of pristine teak forest.

In January, representatives of two firms owned by Tay Za, Air Bagan and Asia Green Development Bank Limited made a joint 70M Kyat (US $82,000) donation to support Burma army troops fighting with KIA forces. The cheque was presented to military officials at a ceremony held in the Naypyidaw capital.

One Kachin businessman that didn’t want their name used told the Kachin News Group that Tay Za's firm has also been granted territory and road construction permits in central Kachin state. The area that is located between the Mali Hka and N’Mai Hka rivers is partially controlled by the KIA’s 1st brigade.

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