August 19, 2016

MPs to discuss jade mine landslide with aim to prevent future disasters

FOLLOWING a recent deadly landslide at a jade mining site in Hpakant, Kachin State, a member of parliament has urged the Union government to carry out measures to prevent future landslides in the area.
In his proposal to discuss the issue at the Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House) on Monday, U Khet Htain Nan, an MP from Kachin State, stressed the need to add sections to the Myanmar Gems Law in order to guarantee the safety and livelihoods local people and to create job opportunities for them.
He also pointed out the weakness of law enforcement for jade mining operations, which has failed to prevent the dumping of waste soil and regulate transportation, environmental conservation and marketing in the jade industry.
“The environment in Hpakant has been deteriorating for about 40 years. Environmental conservation is very weak, and companies have used lots of heavy machinery in their jade mining operations,” said the MP at the parliamentary meeting.
In Hpakant, there have been 37 landslides of dumped soil, including the 11 November landslide, which killed more than 114 migrant miners searching for jade in the piles of waste soil on the mountainside.
The parliament has invited MPs to discuss the issue in future meetings.
In an effort to prevent future landslides, local authorities have planned to inspect mountains of dump soil routinely, according to Hpakant Township Administration Office.
“We have already formed 11 inspection teams at the ward-village level to inspect 11 mountains of dump soil in the township twice per week. Our township-level inspection team will conduct inspections there every Saturday,” said U Tin Swe Myint, the Hpakant Township Administration Officer in an interview with The Global New Light of Myanmar.
So far, 70 makeshift tents in the at-risk area have been removed, according to local authorities.
“If we find conditions that show that landslides can happen in the mountains, we will stop companies from dumping waste soil there,” said U Tin Swe Myint.
The deadly landslide was caused by the collapse of a 200-foot mountain of dump soil. It buried around 70 makeshift huts located in the ravine between two mountains of dump soil, killing 114 migrant miners.
The dump soil was deposited there by jade mining companies.
Only five huts in the ravine escaped the landslide, according to a local resident.


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