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The Latpadaung implementation committee revealed on Wednesday that a US$1.68 million budget has been allocated for regional development, including programmes of job creation for locals; education; healthcare; electricity supply; supplying potable water; and transportation.
“The Committee to Implement the Recommendations of the Report of Letpadaungtaung Investigation Commission is taking measures to continue the mining project by drawing plans to make sure the State, local people and the younger generations receive real benefits from [the project,” it said in a press statement.
The committee also said that 283.69 acres of land which were not needed for the project were being returned to farmers, and that sums had been paid by the committee to farmers as compensation for lands, crops and wells which were confiscated to make way for the project.
Min Min of local campaign group, the Committee to Protect the Interests of the Latpadaung Mountain, confirmed that local authorities were working to provide electricity for villages in the area.
“We see that the authorities have been working on providing electricity for two or three villages in the area and we recognise those efforts,” he said. “Actually, it is the government’s responsibility to provide electricity even if the company won’t. So we accept it either way.”
La Pyae, a resident in Mogyopyin, said his village still doesn’t have access to potable drinking water.
“The wells in the area where Sete and Zeetaw villages are located only produce saltwater so we have to go to fetch drinking water from other villages,” he said. “So far, the two mining companies involved – the UMEH and Wanbao – have done nothing to assist us.”
According to the committee’s statement, around 100 million kyat (over $100,000) has been spent to provide potable drinking water to the villages of Wadan, Tepinkan, Mogyopyin and Kyaw.
However, at least one disgruntled local, Sandar, said the committee has done nothing effective to assist the locals.
“I think the committee is doing only whatever is necessary to fulfil its duty to implement the Latpadaung Investigation Commission’s recommendations,” she said. “However, Kangyigon village has completely run out of drinking water and the committee is doing nothing except make promises. Also, they have not built the hospitals they said they would.”