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Mon State residents demand more transparency in new cement factory project

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Residents of a Mon State village are anxious to clarify how a soon-to-be developed cement factory will power its operations, with many fearing that dirty coal will be involved.

June Cement Industry Company has already reportedly obtained a license to build a 5,000-ton cement factory in the Pyar Taung area of Kyaikmaraw township, Mon State.

“We’ve seen many machines inside the project area,” said Nai Tun Kyi, a resident of Mei Ka Yo Village. “They have also collected a lot of sand. But we don’t know how they will proceed. We want them to explain.”

He added that the cement factory site is very close to the village, fuelling fears of pollution and disruption to local lives depending on how the work is implemented. Residents have asked the state hluttaw to mediate between locals and the company staff.

The company director, U Myint Soe, attempted to placate fears. At the moment, he said only preparatory work like leveling the ground is being undertaken. He added that he’s interesting in consulting with the villagers to ensure they understand the project.

“We are only grading the land. We can only start the factory construction after the land grading is completed. We have only pumped sand since our area is in the lowland. We haven’t done anything else,” he said.

According to U Myint Soe, the factory has not settled on a fuel source yet, and will host community discussions and solicit local input before choosing.

A machine levels the ground at the site of a cement factory in Kyaikmaraw township, Mon State.
The controversial coal-fired Mawlamyine Cement Limited (MCL) Factory is also located in the Pyar Taung area. Residents have repeatedly raised objections to the $400 million factory’s use of coal, as well as the perceived absence of local consultations. Rallies thousands strong have marched through town. In September, the Mon State Hluttaw approved a motion to take action against the factory for generating electricity without official permission from the ministry.

U Myint Soe said June Cement is not yet ready to roll out its own operations as more land is needed first. The factory work requires 1,400 acres of land, but so far only about half of that has been bought from area farmers, he said.

The Myanmar Investment Commission granted a license to June Cement Industry Company on March 25, 2016.

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