Mon State residents protest against polluting quarrying company

A rock quarry in Mon State. Photo: Myanmar Now
A rock quarry in Mon State. Photo: Myanmar Now

The residents of Mon State’s Paung Township held a protest on June 12 against a quarry run by the Long Life Aggregate Company, which has long been accused of polluting the area’s farms and waterways.

Organizer Tin Htun Naing said told Eleven that the quarry had polluted two streams in nearby Ottantar village, preventing local farmers from growing summer paddy for the last two years.

“We don’t want to suffer the destructive consequences of this quarry anymore,” he said. “It’s best the quarry is shut down.”

Myanmar’s previous government licensed over 100 quarrying companies in Mon State, many with permission to operate in the area for several decades. The companies are concentrated around the mountainous Paung and Kyaikhto townships.

Much of the pollution comes from dynamite explosions used to break off chunks of mountains to be crushed into gravel and used in the construction of roads and other infrastructure around the country, such as the Kyaukphyu and Thilawa special economic zones. The explosions blow dust into the air, which can float over several miles before settling on nearby rice, rubber, and betel farms and blocking streams.

One rubber farmer told Myanmar Now in May 2016 that the pollution had cut his annual income in half in the span of one year.

Yesterday’s protest was the third protest held by local residents against Long Life Aggregate Company.

Tin Htun Naing, the organizer, said the company has done too little to rectify the situation.

“We heard the quarry company donated a school for the village’s development. They also said they dug streams. But they just dug out the mud from the streams. The dump soil has already killed the fish and plants,” he told Eleven.

Company director Aung Thet Htay told the same publication that the company has built levees to prevent sediment from clogging the streams in compliance with a directive from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.

However, Thida, another protest organizer, said: “Dr. Min Kyi Win, the Mon State minister for natural resources and environmental conservation, said the quarry was required to follow four instructions to continue mining. The cabinet decided to give the company a license. The four instructions are to provide the residents with water; to filter sediment from the water; to inform the people of environmental and social impact assessments; and to grow trees. But we don’t see any evidence [that the company is following the instructions]. They have filtered the sediment—that’s all.”

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