EARTH Thailand

Dawei residents up in arms over coal-mining project

Myanmar Eleven News / The Nation 20 October 2014 | Phyo Zin

Dawei residents have rejected a coal-mining project, jointly carried out by Thailand's Easter Co and local company May Flower Mining Enterprises. 

In an objection letter dated October 17, they told the director at the Ministry of Mines in Nay Pyi Taw that the two companies did not inform local residents of the project’s advantages and disadvantages before they started the operations since the beginning of 2011. The companies have been accused of having no environmental consideration for the lives and properties of local people.

The project is located in Kwunechaung village of Ban Chaung region, Dawei Township of Tanintharyi Region.

The local residents said though loose soil and polluted water from the coal-mining project had reached the residents’ farmland, the two companies were not taking responsibility.

According to the rural-based environmental conservation report surveyed by Wildlife Conservation Society-WCS, Ban Chaung region in Dawei Township is rich in natural resources and biodiversity and residents are now depending on those resources and biodiversity.

“We have not accepted coal-mining industry in our region. Since the beginning of the project, they [companies] did not ask our views on the project. The present companies are embarking on the mining after buying more than 60 acres of land. If there is a fire in a coal mine, how are they going to deal with it? Who will take responsibility? We, the local residents, are now living near the project. The residents are drinking polluted water flowing into the creek. The polluted water may be harmful not only to local residents but also to the environment,” said Saw Tin Oo from Bann Chaung region.

The local people in Myittar sub-township in Dawei Township, Tanintharyi Region, also sent protest letters to the government against the proposal of 24 Hour Mining & Industry Co Ltd for a coal-mine project on September 6.

They sent a petition with 154 signatures to Kayin ethnic affairs minister as well as to the Myeik-Dawei District Public Relations Office of Karen National Union on September 4. 

In the letter, they voiced their concerns about another 2,100-acre coal-mine project of May Flower Mining Enterprises, which was approved by the government. 

They sent another petition signed by 173 residents to the same parties on September 6. The petition was also sent to other respective government departments.

Locals alleged that there was pollution because of mining activities in the Ban Chaung River that flows through the mine site of May Flower Mining Enterprises Co Ltd.

Dawei is rich in coal resources and many companies are attempting to engage in mining projects in the area. However, they usually faced opposition from local people.