During the Mon State Investment Fair 2019 Chief Minister of Mon State, Dr. Aye Zan, informed the media that a deep sea port would be built in Kalagote island, an isolated island located in the Bay of Bengal, with a land area of 1,427 hectares and measuring about 14.5 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide. He said that the water depth around Kalagote island, between 18 and 23 meters, is deeper than waters around Yangon, where Myanmar’s established main port is located, and that the country would benefit from a deep seaport. He said “Whether it is for rice or other things, Kalagote island is the main place for any trade”. At the event, held on 29th-30th November, in 2019, Dr. Aye Zan explained that the deep sea port plan is part of Mon State Vision Master Plan 2035, developed by Surbana Jurong, a Singaporean infrastructure and management services consultancy firm. Information presented at the Mon State Investment Fair 2019 purported to show that this strategic plan, designed to address the needs of Mon State, was drafted with inputs from local organizations and Mon State authorities. But a young person said that residents of Kalagote island were not well-informed of the plans, saying: “We saw some people did a land survey last year. But we don’t know who they were. Some people said it is for a deep-seaport. There will be huge hardship for the fishing community if a deep-seaport is built. Some villagers (who don’t understand the impact) think there are benefits when the company comes.” 
Residents express concerns over megaproject
On 26th February 2020 it was reported that construction of ‘coming large-scale projects’ on Kalagote island, namely the deep seaport and an airport, was the source of serious concern for local people. According to island residents red flags had been planted during the last rainy season and a new road had been built in the area around Pauk Chaung near the upper harbour. Kalagote Village Administrator, U Daung Sein, said “They [the navy] said it was for the airport, however really, we are not sure about that. They are experimenting [doing ground testing] with backhoes and bulldozers.” Residents had not been fully informed about the projects by local authorities and were worried they might lose their farmlands and local businesses. An island resident, Nai Aung Min, said “I do not want these projects here. If the [projects are implemented], we will surely lose our main source of livelihoods such as our farmlands, so how can we move forward if this happens?” Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) reported that after learning of the megaproject plans, for a deep seaport, a bridge, an airfield and other related infrastructure on Kalagote island villagers expressed concerns over their livelihoods from fisheries, farming and gardening. One villager said “We could not work anymore if this project is to be implemented. We only know how to fish. We don’t know [how to do other work] to go to foreign country. Therefore, we don’t want such an airfield and deep-seaport.” A few months previously, villagers, who had been hearing about the deep seaport and airport since August 2019 but had not been informed, had gathered to ask authorities about the plans and learned that an airfield 2,438 meters in length and 1,219 meters wide was planned. One villager said: “They did not call to tell us. They told us [only] when we asked after gathering. They told us that all so we just know that. Later, red flags were set in the ground, including in my plantation. When we asked them [marine battalion], they said it was the order from above.” HURFOM attempted to interview the Village Administrator regarding but was only given a “no comment” response. Villagers decided to form a group to monitor the project. The population of Kalagote island is approximately 5,000 and there are about 1,000 houses.
Kalagote island seized by the Navy in 2001
Kalagote island, also referred to as Kaleguak, was confiscated by the Mawyawaddy Navy Command in 2001, following seizure of more than 80 hectares in the lower portion of the island for an artillery base in 1996. In June 2014 General Kyaw Nyunt, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Defence, stated that no army base had been established on the island but there were no plans to return the seized land. Residents continued to live and work there. Representatives from the affected constituencies were enquiring whether the army planned to return seized land that was not required for the country’s defence strategy. On 24th July 2014, at the 10th regular session of the Pyi Thu Hlataw (Lower House) representative Mi Myint Than, presented the issue. She said locals had been forced to give their signatures without being paid compensation and asked “will this army-seized land also be returned to the people, as lands [in other parts of Burma] have been returned?” General Kyaw Nyunt responded that the Ministry of Home Affairs had handed the entire 1,427 hectares of Kalegauk island land to Mawyawaddy Navy Command free of charge and that 920 island residents had agreed to the land acquisition, providing their signatures in the presence of the former Ye Township Law and Order Restoration Council, the Township People Police and an official from the Land Marking Department. But island residents say their lands have been passed down through the generations. They claim that no-one gave up their land for free, they had merely given their signatures for land-grant applications for their properties.(See less)