Dawei Residents Take Their Opposition To Mining To Rangoon

Dawei residents in Southern Burma held a press conference on November 12 in Rangoon in an attempt to highlight what the residents have had to face because of mining in the region.

The Dawei villagers from the western Dawei area said the mining has been going on before and after ceasefire agreements between the Karen National Union and the government.

Dawei residents said the Heinda and Bawapin coal mines operating in eastern Dawei, are polluting the village water sources.

Saw Ka Bu, a villager from Kahtaung Nee village who lives near the mining area told Karen News.

“We have learned that the coal mining companies got permission [government] to mine about 8,000 acres over 25 years in our area. We are worried that it will have terrible negative impacts on us.”

The Dawei residents’ press conference was organized in Rangoon by the Ta Ka Paw Youth Group and the Dawei Development Group and the local civil society groups working on social issues in the area. More than 70 people including mining experts, community-based-organizations, the local villagers, media groups attended the conference.

Naw Pay Ta Law, a member of Ta Ka Paw Youth Group spoke to Karen News.

“After the ceasefire, the government gave permission to the companies to mine thousands of acres of land in the eastern Dawei area, and to plant rubber trees. We want to point out that the new mining projects lack transparency.”

A press release from the conference stated that thousands of acres of lands and jobs would be destroyed by the mining.

Following the ceasefire agreement between the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Burma government a number of private companies came to the Dawei areas looking for business.

Padoh Saw Eh Na, the KNU’s Megui/Tavoy district joint secretary spoke to Karen News about permission for development.

“We follow our central KNU policies in regard to local economic development in our area. Any development should be do no harm to the environment and do no harm to the villagers. If they [companies] want to do business, they must get permission from our organization. If they cannot follow the rules, these companies will not be given permission to operate.”

Recently, a coalmining operation at Bam Chaung in the Dawei area run by the Myanmar May Flower Company and the East Star Company [Thai owned] since 2011 has now been stopped. The KNU’s Megui/Tavoy district officials said that they made the decision at their district meeting in October to stop the coalmining because of the local peoples’ complaints.

Local villagers said that the May Flower Company had got permission from the government and have constructed a road for carrying coal from Si Daw to Kahtaung Nee village. The First Resource Company is trying to open a new mining operation in the Ka Moung Thwe of eastern Dawei.

In the Asia Development Bank latest report figure note that as of September 2011 there were 33 major coal deposits in Burma and four of them are in Tanintharyi region in southern Burma.

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