Hpakant Flooding Linked to Mining Practices, Locals Say

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

With at least five wards in Kachin State’s jade-rich Hpakant area flooded after heavy rains, locals say that the impact has been made worse by destructive mining practices

As of Monday, Lon Khin, Hpakant, Seng Tawng, Tarmakhan and Nget Pyawtaw were facing rising water levels as rain continued for the third consecutive day.

“I think there are at least two to three instances of flooding every year in Hpakant. Whenever heavy rains come, there is flooding,” Nawng Latt, who is working with the Hpakant-based Greenland Environmental Group, told NMG.

The streams which were flooding were reportedly the Uru Hka and the Huay Hka, he added.

Hundreds of people remain trapped on the Myitkyina-Hpakant road, as it became flooded with water while people were en route between the two towns.

“Many vehicles are trapped here. There is a long line of vehicles,” Ah Se, who was traveling to Hpakant at the time of reporting, told NMG.

De Ram, a Hpakant local, said that floodwaters in the area had reached the height of bridges over local streams.

“Recently the authorities have tried to clean the Uru stream, but the [mining] companies do not follow the guidelines,” he said, referring to the disposal of mining waste. “Companies throw soil into the Uru stream, so the stream is flooding.”

Environmental civil society worker Nawng Latt said that flooding was “rare” in Hpakant before 1990, and the jade boom.

“After companies came into Hpakant, they did not follow guidelines and disposed of soil wherever they wanted,” he told NMG. “Companies have excessively extracted jade from Hpakant, so the streams have been damaged and flooding in the Hpakant region followed.”

While no one had reportedly been injured in or displaced by the floods at the time of reporting, locals said that they were closely monitoring the situation.