RANGOON — No new quarrying licenses will be issued in Mt. Kalama Forest Reserve in Mon State’s Paung Township, according to the Mon State divisional government, where there have been ongoing disputes between mining companies and locals.
Dr. Min Kyi Win, Mon State minister for environmental conservation and natural resources, told The Irrawaddy that the state government would also reduce the existing number of companies operating inside the forest reserve, as per the instruction of Union Minister for Environmental Conservation and Natural Resources U Ohn Win.
Locals in the area have complained of the environmental impact, stating that waste and dust from the quarries have polluted the air and water sources.
The state minister said there are currently six quarries in the forest reserve. The state government carries out regular checks on quarries in the area to ensure they are in line with rules and regulations, and punitive actions are taken if violations are found, he added.
The Mon State government imposed a total ban on Dec. 13 of last year on all quarries in the Kaylatha Nature Reserve in Bilin Township. The suspension is still in place.
“It is against the laws, rules and regulations to operate quarries in places designated for environmental conservation,” said lawmaker Dr. Khin Naing Oo of Bilin Township Constituency (1).
The Protection of Wildlife and Conservation of Natural Areas Law (1994) prescribes up to three years of imprisonment for causing water or air pollution or possessing or disposing of pollutants or mineral pollutants in a natural area.