The Karen National Union (KNU) has decided to suspend the feasibility study for a cement factory being carried out by the Phyu Min Tun Company near Min Lwin Mountain in Thaton Township, Mon State.
Saw Tar Doh Moo, the chairman of the KNU’s Central Economic Committee sent a letter to the company on 22 April informing them of the KNU’s decision to suspend the feasibility study.
The letter said that though the KNU had previously given the company permission to conduct a feasibility study it decided to withdraw that permission after the company failed to get back in contact with the KNU after the KNU had contacted them on 2 December 2015 to ask about false statements issued by the company and to inform them of local residents disapproval and how they regard the mountain as sacred.
Local activists formed the Min Lwin Area Natural Environment Protection Committee and surveyed residents living in 14 villages close to the proposed site of the cement factory in the foothills of the Min Lwin Mountain on 9 and 10 April.
After they submitted a report of their findings to the KNU on 21 April the KNU informed the Phyu Min Tun Company of their decision to suspend the project on 22 April.
Naw Eh Phaw Wah of the Min Lwin Area Natural Environment Protection Committee said to KIC News: “Our committee is very happy about the KNU’s decision to suspend [the project]. Actually, the KNU already knew the views of the local residents on discontinuing this project since a meeting that was held in Mawlamyaing on 14 March. That’s why I think they have decided to suspend it.”
She added that local residents welcomed the KNU’s decision, but that they were still worried because the Phyu Min Tun Company has continued to carry out mineral testing on Min Lwin Mountain. The residents plan to hold a prayer ceremony in the foothills of the Min Lwin Mountain on 29 April.
The Phyu Min Tun Company was only given permission to carry out mineral testing at Min Lwin Mountain from 22 April 2015 to 21 April 2016 but have continued mineral testing even though their permit has expired.
Before the KNU intervened the company had previously been given permission to continue the feasibility study for the cement factory from 22 April 2016 to 22 April 2017 even though local residents had objected to the feasibility study at a meeting in Mawlamyine on 14 March.
The Min Lwin Area Natural Environment Protection Committee carried its survey out in the following villages: Min Lwin, Pein Hne Taw, A Le Ywar, Inn Ywar, Htee PhoeThit, Wan Bal Inn, Pan Thar Ywar, PaO Su, Maw Ka Lo, Pu Yeik Kho, Kalar Su, In Taw, See Sone, and Mat Cha villages from 9 to 10 April.