Locals worry about damage to their plantations as Mon State government gives green light to treasure hunters

June 15, 2018

HURFOM: Just weeks after Thanbyuzayat Township General Administration Department forced Golden Geo Myanmar Co. Ltd. to halt illegal excavations on the same site, on April 22nd 2018, the Mon State government officially granted permission to the Royal Eagle Myanmar Development Group Co. Ltd to excavate fabled caches of buried gold and other valuables said to have been left by retreating Japanese troops during World War II. The company has been given three months to excavate at Mount Mane Mala (Samane Blai) at the western edge of Thanbyuzayat Town, Mon State. The excavations have local residents worried about the potential damage to their plantations, as well as about the possibility of the company accidentally uncovering and detonating old Japanese cluster bombs.

Neither the government nor the company asked for the consent of the local farmers or plantation owners before undertaking the excavation project. Local residents are not satisfied with the project.

We’ve worried that they haven’t specified an exact place to excavate treasures and that they’ve just randomly dug everywhere. If they dig at random, there will be landslides and damage to our plantations. Because of how deep they’ve dug into the earth, they’re going to cut the main roots of the plants in our plantations.

 

We totally rely on durian, betel nut, and rubber plants for our livelihoods. Our plantations are our lives. We’re worried that our plantations will be damaged. They never informed us about the excavations and we don’t know what they are searching for.

 

Moreover, according to our great-grandparents, the Japanese troops also buried a cluster of explosives when they buried the treasure. If one bomb explodes then all the bombs will explode as they all are in a series. We have nothing to say about their project but we’re worried about the damage this could cause to our plantations,” said Nai Will, a resident of Pa Nga village whose plantation is near Mount Mane Mala (Samane Blai).

The excavation site is about one acre and has been fenced off with galvanized iron sheets. No one has been allowed to enter the site.

My plantation is close to the project site. Our livelihoods rely on our plantation. We don’t have anything else. We don’t know if they’ve excavated in our plantations or not. If they do excavate in our plantations, we’ll have to suffer the loss. We’re worried about landslides and possible damage to our plantations,” said Nai Tun Shin, a farmer from Pa Nga village whose plantation is near Mount Mane Mala (Samane Blai).

The locals have been planning to sign a petition against the company and file a report to the Mon State government. Most of the plantations near the project site are rubber, betel nut, durian and other fruit plantations.

Since the Royal Eagle Myanmar Development Group Co. Ltd was granted permission by the Mon State government on April 22nd they have been excavating at night.

According to the Mon State Chief Minister, Dr Aye Zan, the company has also got permission from the Union Parliament, and from the Department of Archaeology and the National Museum. The Mon State government has agreed to provide security to the company during the project period.

 

 

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