The Shan State government said that it does not have the authority to direct and regulate coal mining operations in the state, according to an MP from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD).
Speaking to Shan Herald on Wednesday, Hsipaw Township MP Nang San San Aye said that her call to take action against the Ngwe Yi Pale Mining Co Ltd was dismissed during the state parliament session on Tuesday.
She said that the state assembly recommended that she take the matter to a higher level in Naypyidaw.
“Did this company get a license from the mining ministry?” Nang San San Aye questioned. “And if they do have a license, what are the details of the contract?”
Nang San San Aye said that, according to Shan State’s Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Minister Dr Nyi Nyi Aung, the state government only has the power to hear a complaint but does not have decision-making capacity.
“Anything related to mining has to go through the central government in Naypyidaw, including the contract process,” she said. “Therefore, these questions should be directed to Naypyidaw. At the state level, we cannot do anything.
“There will be problems and this will slow down the process in the future,” she added. “The Shan State government should have the power to make decisions on Shan State.”
A subsidiary of the Ngwe Yi Pale group, Ngwe Yi Pale Co. Ltd launched a coal mining operation in Hsipaw Township in 2000. In addition to coal, the firm is also one of the biggest manufacturers of sugar and cement in Burma.
But on May 24, Shan Herald reported that residents in Peng Zai, Parng Ngar and Nar Goon had demanded the firm permanently stop operations due to pollution and damage to the environment.
“Problems have occurred [in these areas],” the Hsipaw MP said. “Now the Shan State government should look into it and do something about it.
“But, what they are doing? Nothing. Whenever anything happens they just refer it to Naypyidaw. In effect, the Shan State government is meaningless.”
Since the National League for Democracy-led government took office in April, a Shan State cabinet with nine ministers has been tabled. However, they have yet to disclose who these ministers will be.