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Hpakant Floods Linked to Mining Waste Disposal, Locals Say

Latest flooding in Hpakant, the land of Kachin State’s jade mining township.

Ineffective cleaning of the Uru stream by businesspeople in Hpakant, Kachin State is contributing to flooding which now occurs every year in the area, locals say.

While the local government and businesspeople have formed a committee to clean waste from the stream, residents in Hpakant say that the initiative has also been used for further extraction of gold and jade, and that the cleaning process becomes secondary.

“Businessmen do not pay attention to the cleaning of the stream. Actually, they want to extract gold and jade. They want to get opportunities rather working to clean the stream,” chair of the Hpakant-based Green Land civil society organization Ying Hkaw told KNG.

He said that people in Lawng Hkang, Aye Mya Thayar, Ngetpyawtaw, and Mashi Kahtaung wards suffer from the annual flooding in Hpakant town.

Aye Mya Thayar resident N’gan Yaw San said that it is the government’s responsibility to stop the flooding.

“I think that the government and jade mining management department must draw up a strategy to prevent the flooding of the Uru stream,” he said. “The jade mining management department must monitor all jade mining blocks in Hpakant because jade mining companies dispose of soil unsystematically.

He cited the country’s Gemstone Law, which states that mining companies must dispose of waste soil more than 300 feet from the nearest stream, and said that it is being violated.   

“Jade mining companies throw it away and the jade mining management department doesn’t say anything about it,” N’gan Yaw San told KNG.

Under the guidance of the local government, the Uru stream has been cleaned multiple locations in two village tracts since March.

Lamawng La Tawng, a Hpakant resident, said that the activities have been “ineffective” and even damaging.

“The state government and companies do not pay attention to the cleaning of Uru stream. Even though they are talking about cleaning the Uru stream, companies actually are extracting gold and jade in the Tarmakhan area,” he said, referring to one cleaning site. “They dispose of soil indiscriminately. That’s why flooding will occur again and again. The Uru stream cleaning process is ineffective.”

In the past, jade mining companies were responsible for the stream cleaning process. Now, in accordance with an order from the Union government, the Kachin State government, township General Administration Department, municipal department, jade mining companies, regional development department, township police force, three parliamentarians, and two civil society representatives work together regarding the stream’s maintenance.

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