Villagers concerned about long-term effects of coalmining

Residents four villages in the Dawei area are concerned about the impact coal mining operations will have on their health and on the pollution of local waterways.

Local sources said that the coalmining project, a joint venture of the East Star and Mayflower companies, now operating in the Dawei Township region has the potential to pollute waterways and damage health.

The companies were granted permission by the government to extract coal in four villages – Nyaung Pin Seik, Kyauk Htoo, Tapue Chaung and Pataung Ni. Residents are troubled about the health consequences for villagers’ as well as the impact of mine pollution on their plantations.

So far, East Star and Mayflower have extracted coal from five acres in Nyaung Pin Seik village, and have taken another 3,000 acres. Villagers claim the companies have not issued any detailed extraction plans to local people.

A Nyaung Pin Seik resident spoke to Karen News.

“Our villagers are located near waterways. The companies have started the coal excavation and throw the waste into the streams polluting it. In the rainy season, the water becomes dirty – we are worried about the consequence on our health.”

A resident said that the villagers met with mine officials six times in November 2012, and demanded the mining joint venture stop extracting coal, but the project started running again, this month, on February 15.

Nyaung Pin Seik villagers held a prayer meeting protest in an effort to try to stop the coal mining and plan to send a letter of protest and a petition to the Tenasserim Minister and to Karen National Union officials.

The Kasel Doh Township chairman, Saw Di Aung Lu, from the KNU Brigade 4, Myeik-Dawei District, told Karen News.

“The impact at the moment is not very serious, but the residents are concerned about the long-term consequences and impacts of health problems and of confiscation of their lands.”

Villagers report that in response to their demonstration, the company paid compensation for damage to five acres of plantations caused by the coal extraction – residents received 20,000 Thai Baht for each acre.

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