Govt officials consult villagers’ about proposed cement factory

Villagers in Hpa-an Township, Karen State say for the first time in memory Government officials have involved them in discussions about a development project planned for their area. Villagers’ say an assessment was carried out and they were consulted with over a development project before it started.

Karen State Ministers and Members of Parliament visited Mi Kayin village on April 2nd to meet with villagers and to hear villagers’ views plans to build a new cement factory in the area and the possible environmental impact.

The government official team included U Saw Hsa Law La – State Minister of forestry and Mining as the team leader, U Saw Kyi Lin – State Minister of Electrical and Industrial, Saw Min Aung Lin – Member of State Parliament, U Naing Aung – State Land Registration Directorate, Dr. Win Naing – State Minister of Health, U Myo Kyi – State Municipal Directorate, U Ye Naing – Hpa-an District Administration Chief and other officials.

Saw Min Aung Lin, a Member of State Parliament, with the assessment and consultation team spoke to Karen News.

“We went to Mi Kayin village on the 2nd of April and held a meeting to discuss with villagers on the issue of building a new cement factory in the area. We’ve asked for their views and thoughts. Some of the villagers agreed with the plan, but some of them don’t want it. We also had chance to discuss about compensation for land that will be lost due to the building of the factory.”

Saw Min Aung Lin said this was the first round of meetings and there will be further meeting in the near future.

Villager said that prior to the meeting with the state officials, Daw Nan Say Awa, a Member of Parliament from the Pyithu Hluttaw [House of Representatives] met with residents in Mi Kayin village on 1st April, to discuss the building of the cement factory and told villagers to carefully think about it and said that everything will be carried out according to the will of the villagers.

A villager from Mi Kayin village, who asked not to be named, spoke to Karen News.

“Daw Nan Say Awa was here one day before the state official assessment and consultation team came. We are grateful that senior government officials like Daw Nan Say Awa came and talked to us. It gave us time to discuss the issue among ourselves, as we knew in advance. This is a very important issue for us. After we met with the State official team, we told them to come and meet us again. We were unable to reach a decision this time.”

Local sources said the planned cement factory will be built by Myanmar Cement and Mineral Production Company and it is estimated it will produce 10,000 tons of cement a day.

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