India has handed over 250 new houses to Myanmar built for displaced villagers in the restive northern Rakhine state, the two countries said on Tuesday (Jul 9).
The pre-fabricated houses are part of an agreement signed between the two countries in December 2017.
This comes as Myanmar grapples with various issues in northern Rakhine, including ongoing armed clashes with the Arakan Army, and the delayed repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, where more than 750,000 fled to following a violent crackdown in Rakhine in August 2017.
Myanmar is currently ramping up the building of homes for displaced villagers in northern Rakhine.
India’s contribution is one of various goodwill projects Myanmar has received – China and Japan have also built houses to accommodate displaced communities in Rakhine state.
Under the housing project by India, Myanmar has set aside three plots of land for the 250 houses, allocating them to the Hindu, Muslim and Rakhine communities.
Authorities say the new houses are within 3km of the villagers’ previous homes.
Each house is prefabricated – meaning housing parts are assembled on site – and is around 40 sq m, roughly the size of a two-room flat in Singapore.
Indian builders also engaged the help and labour of the local communities, who were paid for their work.
The largest of the three clusters of houses, called Shwe Zar village, has 148 units for the Hindu community.
The settlement has already been fitted with electrical lines to power up the households, and simple water piping works will be carried out before the end of July, in time for villagers to move in.
The other two plots of land with the India-built houses are at the nearby Kyein Chaung Taung village – where 60 houses were built for Rohingya Muslims – and the 42-house Nant Thar Taung for Rakhine villagers.
Journalists were not shown the other two villages on this media trip.
Under the 2017 agreement, India will provide an additional 750 houses to Myanmar, but the exact date of that project has yet to be finalised.