Mine pollution destroys village

Pyaw Pyo villagers claim polluted water from the Heinda Mine, in the Dawei District in southern Burma, has made their lives unbearable.

Daw Aye Ye, from Pyaw Pyo village told Karen News.

“My house is flooded and all of my plantation is gone. My well that I used to use is now ruined and I have to dig for water from under the silt released by the mine. Now I have nothing left. I don’t know how to survive. My house is a high house but it can still be swallowed by the mud.”

The Heinda Mine is a tin and tungsten mine operating, 45 kilometer east of Dawei and is a joint venture between a Thai company, Myanmar Pongpipat, the government’s Ministry of Mines.

Villager’s allege the mine has ruined their plantation and polluted gardens and homes.

“The mine has operated for a long time and the consequences for us have been all bad. Neither the government nor the company have been bothered to come to see us or pay us compensation for what we have lost.”

Daw Ye Ye said.

“If I lose my house, my plantation, I have nowhere to go. They should compensate us, that is the only way we can survive in the future. Now we can’t do anything.

In early July, the Minister of Forestry and Mining in Taninthanyi Division, inspected the mine and warned the company to improve its mining operation. Villagers claim that there has not been any concrete action taken by either the government or the company and the problems continue to get worse.

Villagers say they are desperate. They have also submitted their complaints to the Karen National Union (KNU), who received payment for giving the mining operation permission to operate. Villagers say the KNU has also failed to take action.

The villagers say the 5 million kyat compensation package offered to cover all the villagers affected by the Heinda Mine is inadequate and they have refused to accept it.

U Soe Naing, from Pyaw Pyo village told Karen News.

“They came to give us money, but I do not accept it. My plantation and land destroyed by the mine is worth more than five million kyat. For the whole village, the company is offering us compensation of five million kyat – it is meaningless. If we divide it between each family who have lost their house and land, it amounts to not more than 10,000 kyat ($20) each – we cannot accept this.”

U Soe Naing, says the mine has ruined the lives of the villagers.

“We grow betel nut trees, coconut trees and other plantations for our living and to pay to send our children to school every year. Now, we can’t even think about sending our children to school, as it is already difficult for us to survive. We don’t oppose the company come here do their business, but they need to respect us, and not treat us like this. We want them to pay fair compensation for what they have destroyed.”

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