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Kayin residents want monitoring of cement factories’ operations

Residents living near two cement factories in Hpa-an Township in Kayin State have called on the government to ensure transparency in the operation of the plants in order to protect their health amid reports they are already using coal for power.

Some 2955 residents near the factory in Myaingkalay Village, said they are worried about the possible health hazards the factories’ operations could pose.

Combined, the two plants produce over 4900 tonnes of cement per day and were built 20 years ago. They had been using natural gas for power previously. This year, however, the factories started using coal for power.

“The Kayin people always objected about factories run by coal since 2015. But now the cement factories have begun using coal for power without informing us. They are not transparent in dealing with us,” said Soe Soe Htay, a resident of Hlarkar Village ward.

She added that the two factories did not provide employment and livelihood to local residents, but were tolerated as they are not harming the environment.

“But, it is time to say ‘Stop’ now that they begin to use coal,” she added.

The residents met to discuss the problem on Saturday and they have issued a statement urging authorities to stop the operations of the factories unless they stop using coal for power.

“They need to promise locals not to use coal in factories if they want to continue running them,” said U Einna Sarya, a monk from Zayat Phyu Village.

“We prepared an agreement for the spokespersons of the two factories to make a promise not to use coal and to operate with transparency” he said.

“But they did not join our meeting so we sent them a statement and a sample contract for them to consider our demands.”

The residents are demanding an environmental impact assessment to determine the safety of the factories and their effects on the nearby communities.

“If they won’t consider our demands, we will continue to campaign to stop them. We have already sent our statement to the State and the Union governments,” the monk said.

SOURCE: MYANMAR TIMES

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