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Residents of Tenasserim Division’s Yebyu Township on Monday presented a letter to the regional government calling on it to mediate in their dispute with Delco Ltd, a Burmese-owned mining company whose tin and tungsten mines have been blamed for causing damage to the environment and local livelihoods in the area.
The letter, signed by residents of 10 villages in Yebyu, accused the company of sullying local creeks by dumping excavated soil and also hoarding water from a nearby lake that villagers depended on for their daily use.
“That company has been conducting mining operations in our region for the past six years, silting up and polluting local creeks and posing challenges to our fishery and farm work,” said Khin Soe, a resident of Kanbauk, one of the affected villages.
“They are also hoarding water from the local lake which was our main source of water by building a reservoir around it, and they’ve also built roads in the area without listening to the opinions of local people.”
He said about 10 villages in the area, including Kanbauk, Pyingyi, Paya, Mongan, Migyaungai, Kwemapaw and Zadi, were suffering negative consequences of the mining project.
Last year, the embankment of a tailing pond operated by Delco Ltd in Kanbauk collapsed, causing a massive landslide that left one child dead and around 300 people displaced.
The company was awarded a 10-year contract, from 2010 to 2020, for mining operations in the area.
The mining projects also faced opposition during the administration of former President Thein Sein, with locals reglarly staging protests to call on the government to intervene in their disputes with the company. They said they are hoping the new government under Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party will enact laws to protect local interests and the environment.
The letter was sent to the Tenasserim Division government’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Conservation.