Local people demand there be full responsibility and accountability for negative environmental impacts from cement industry project

November 19, 2019

HURFOM: June Cement Industry Limited held a meeting with local villagers in the monastery of Mae Garow village in Kyeikmayaw Township on 18 November 2019 as part of a required Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for its  planned cement industry building.

Company representatives, the Kyeikmayaw Township’s Hluttaw representative Daw Khin Myo Myint, the Mon state Environmental Protection department and the Administrator from Kyeikmayaw Township joined the consultation.

Local people have demanded there be full responsibility and accountability of the environmental impacts of the planned operation.

We won’t accept if they take responsibility only after their plant is  operating. We want them to meet with local villagers and authorities together to [develop a] contract on how they will take  responsibility and accountability for the negative impacts from the operation before they build the industry” said Nai Htein Win, a Mae Garow villager.

June company has taken 889.96 acres of land to build the plant. Nai Shwe Win, one of the Mae Garow villagers, asked that the unused land be returned to the original owners.

(The company) used force to buy land from farmers in 2010 — whether sold or not. The company will have to use how many acres of land? Is there any plan to give back the unused land to landless farmers?” asked Nai Shwe Win.

 The company responded that there is no unused land and that the 889.96 acres is still less than their needs.

At the EIA consultation local people also raised concerns about a third party called the E-guard company who had been  asking unrelated questions of the villagers while conducting an EIA survey.

In addition villagers expressed concerns that historical temples and a Buddha statue in the mountain range will be affected when the cement company starts mining.

According to U Tin Oo, project director, “The company will follow rule of law taking responsibility and accountability to maintain the least [possible negative] effects on the environment. The residents can complain …and [it has already been] explained how to [register their concerns.] 

Nine women among the participants who joined the EIA public consultation meeting, reported they don’t understand the Burmese language very well and did not receive a proper explanation of the EIA procedure.

We don’t understand what they said at all. We’ve joined the meeting [because] we didn’t want to embarrass our village administration. If they speak (Mon), we will understand. We can say no if we don’t like it (if we understand). But now, we do not dare say (anything as we don’t understand them)” cited Daw Shaw, one of Mae Garow villagers.

The villagers are not totally against the project, and their main demand is with the plans to use coal-fired power, according to local resources.

One local woman, Daw San Oo said “if [this is a] coal powered plant, we won’t agree as it is most dangerous and affects our health. We already witnessed the impacts. Due to Mawlamyine Cement Limited – MCL’s ship, our river and houses are destroyed so that we don’t want it to happen again”.

The company argued  it must use coal-fired power until the government is able to provide natural gas and electricity.

As (the state) could not support [gas or electricity], we need to use [coal-fired power]. We will change it immediately when they provide us

[with natural gas or electricity]

. As we are not sure when that will be, we can’t provide an exact time to change [the power source],” continued U Tin Oo.

The June company received permission from the Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) on 26 March in 2016, for the construction of the plant following an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and a Social Impact Assessment (SIA), according to U Tin Oo.

The June company has invested 471 million USD in the project  and plans to produce 5,000 ton of cement per day.

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