Petition calls for end to Ngapali sand mining
Monday, 30 March 2015
A group calling itself the “Alliance against Sand Mining at Ngapali and Myanmar Beaches” has launched an online petition urging President U Thein Sein to put a halt to sand extraction and overdevelopment at Myanmar beaches, particularly Ngapali in southern Rakhine State.
As The Myanmar Times reported earlier this month, dozens of truckloads of sand are being taken daily from beaches in the Ngapali area. While contrary to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism’s Coastal Beach Directives, local officials say they have allowed sand mining at three beaches vetted by the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry for “regional development” projects. Dozens of truckloads are being taken each day from the beaches, right in front of tourists lying on sunbeds.
The change.org petition says the beaches at Ngapali are being “destroyed” by sand mining, as well as the building of hotels directly over the beach and land confiscations. It blames “collusion” between private businesses and local authorities.
“Please sign this petition to urge Myanmar President U Thein Sein to understand that saving Ngapali’s beaches is a matter of national urgency. Only President U Thein Sein himself may have the power to stop the destruction of Ngapali & other Myanmar beaches – before it is too late,” it says.
Launched on March 28, the petition had about 70 supporters by yesterday evening.
Oliver E Soe Thet from Laguna Lodge, a Ngapali-based hotel, said he hoped the petition would bring the issue to the attention of senior officials in Nay Pyi Taw.
He said during a visit to Ngapali in October 2013 President U Thein Sein had urged sustainable, community-based development at the beach and the sand mining and other issues appeared “totally contrary” to the president’s vision for the area.
“It takes nature tens of thousands of years, wave by wave, to turn a shell into soft white grains of sand. It’s a free gift from nature, and today guarantees tourism business, jobs, income and sustainable development for communities in the Rakhine coastal area,” he said, adding that sand for construction could easily be taken from nearby rivers or beaches away from human settlements and tourism.
Mr E Soe Thet, who is also a former environmental adviser to the government on Rakhine coastal areas, expressed concern that beach sand was being used in construction projects, as the salt causes iron used in reinforcing to rust. “Buildings made using chlorinated sea sand become very unsafe about 10 years after construction,” he said.