Hpakant ripped apart for profit

Myanmar’s mineral exports are lucrative and jade is the biggest earner, according to the Ministry of Commerce. A report said Myanmar earned US$1.3 billion from the export of mineral resources from April 1, 2014 to January 2. China is the main market and the Hpakant Region has become globally famous. 

Hpakant has more than 300 joint ventures and 500 public companies. They leave a large footprint on the region. Loose soil is discarded into the Uru River and its tributaries, causing the waterways to silt up and the Uru’s bed to rise by 23 feet. Villages suffer from increased flooding and water scarcity. For instance, let’s look at a natural lake on which more than 1,500 people in Sutaung village have relied. They now struggle to access drinking water and the lake has been filled up by soil waste.   

Similar stories blight other areas of Hpakant. Slagheaps reach 1,000 feet high and miners die in accidents. Landslides killed many in Mawmaungbon village on January 6. It was difficult to search for bodies amid the tonnes of soil. Similar incidents occurred on March 6 and May 7. The May 7 landslide left 11 dead and four injured. Police records show that there have been 13 recent landslides. 

The government should review the mining industry in Hpakant, a unique part of the world. 

The Daily Eleven urges the authorities to take preventive measures against natural disasters to save lives and the environment.