‘If they cannot work in our paddy fields, how will they survive?’ a local monk said.
Locals in Mongkai, southern Shan State, say they will protest a coal mine if the company in question does not cease its activities.
The mining is occurring near Kham Ner village in Wan Yat village tract.
Around 450 locals and monks met at the Loi Lai Buddhist center in Mongkai Township June 9, where they discussed potential damage to water sources caused by the mining project. This, in turn, would lead to the destruction of their rice paddies and cause health problems within communities.
They released a statement on June 11 saying that they would not allow any entity to mine for coal in the village tract due to the damage to natural resources, the environment and agriculture.
“We don’t accept any company or any organization doing coal mining in Mongkai,” Saw Tay Ya, the abbot of the Loi Lai monastery, told SHAN. “If they dig for coal, the streams and paddy fields will be damaged. Many people are farmers in Mongkai. If they cannot work in their paddy fields, how can they survive?”
Thousands of people opposed the Hein Metta Company in 2017 when they prepared to mine in Mongkai. The company withdrew in 2018. Recent news has reached the area that another company will again attempt to mine for coal.
“Farmers reported it to us when they saw a coal mining company preparing for a coal mining project. Therefore, we held a meeting,” the abbot said.
Sai Lon, a state MP from Mongkai Constituency (2), told SHAN that the mining project should not move forward.
“Together with the monks, I signed on to the petition letter and opposed the coal mining. If this project benefited our people and our state, as well as having less of an impact on the environment, we might consider it,” Sai Long said.
He added that monks, locals and representatives of the coal mining company should have an open discussion about any project concerning resource extraction in the area.
The June 11 statement said that if the company does not listen to the voices of the monks and the local people and continues the project despite their concerns, they would protest.