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Cement firm to meet local residents over contentious coal plant

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Company representatives from Thai-based Siam Cement Group (SCG) will meet with Kyaikmaraw township residents to discuss the controversial coal-powered Mawlamyine Cement Limited (MCL) factory, which Pyar Taung area residents contend is a public health and environmental hazard.

Five residents and a monk from each village in Pyar Taung will meet with SCG officials in Mawlamyine on December 24. Local residents have issued a series of demands, including that the operators of MCL find an alternative power source to coal. Residents have also stipulated that the company use modern machines to reduce the noise pollution from rock blasting, transport mined materials by road rather than riverboats avoid damaging farmland and water resources, and to abide by the law in the factory’s operation.

Local residents protest the use of coal power at the MCL cement factory. (Photo – MNA)
“We will only meet with them if they agree to our four demands. We told them that we would only meet [representatives] that can take charge. They replied on [December] 17th to [agree to] hold the meeting,” said Nai Shwe Win, a Pyar Taung resident.

SCG officials will attend the meeting as representatives of SCG, and not of MCL cement factory, which is a joint venture with Pacific Link Cement Industries. Officials said that they would only discuss the four demands made by local residents.

Mon State’s Environmental Conservation Committee chair Khin Naing Oo said the plant’s use of coal power is also slated for discussion in the state hluttaw committee.

“We are still inspecting the EIA [environmental impact assessment] and SIA [strategic impact assessment], which we have demanded from MCL,” Khin Naing Oo said.

SCG holds a 70 percent share in the US$400 million factory cement factory, which opened in June despite repeated public demonstrations by area residents, who voiced concerns that the plant would pollute the local environment and be a menace to public health. Over 2000 activists marched in Mawlamyine in July to protest the plant’s opening.

The factory operates on 40-megawatts from a coal-fired power plant and nine-megawatts from a waste heat generator.

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