2,000 protest lignite mine in LampangChina
About 2,000 villagers from Ngao district in Lampang are vowing to intensify their campaign against a new lignite mining project they claim could lead to widespread pollution.
The villagers yesterday erected protest banners and posters in front of houses and schools and along streets in tambon Ban Haeng in a bid to keep the project, run by Khiao Lueang Co, out of their neighborhood.
Villagers will gather again to protest against the company and state agencies if they turn a deaf ear to their complaints, a representative of the Ban Haeng Nuea residents, Kamolnet Chiangchom, said.
"We give responsible agencies two days to tell us what action they will take against the project," Ms Kamolnet said.
The villagers are also preparing to petition Lampang governor Supakit Bunyarithipong to demand he investigate what they call the company's "suspicious behavior". They allege the company lured many villagers into selling their land for the project three years ago.
They claim the company, reportedly backed by a leading politician in Sukhothai, told them it needed land to plant eucalyptus to produce paper but was actually planning to use the land for mining and is in the process of asking the government for permission.
The company's executives could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Mr Supakit said the company had just applied for a mining concession from the Industry Ministry and the project needed to be assessed at community hearings before it can go ahead.
Meanwhile, four tambon administration organizations and villagers in Chiang Rai's Mae Fa Luang and Mae Chan districts want authorities to ban the transport of lignite from a coal mine in Burma, Mae Fa Luang University rector Wanchai Sirichana said.
They voiced their concerns at a meeting held by the university after learning up to 5,000 tones of lignite owned by Saraburi Coal Co, which holds a coal mine concession in Burma, will be transported daily through the two districts and tambon Pa Sang in Mae Chan will be used as a transit point before the coal is sent to fuel cement-making plants in Saraburi.
Mr Wanchai quoted the participants at the meeting as asking: "How about people's health? And how do local motorists feel when they have to share the same roads with lignite-loaded trucks making 200 trips a day." Mr Wanchai said villagers are worried about the emission of dust from lignite and the threat of water pollution if the coal is allowed to be kept in tambon Pa Sang.
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