On the 12th and 13th August the Khao Lao Yai-Pha Chan Dai Forest Conservation Group celebrated the 2 year anniversary of successfully closing down a nearby stone quarry that has impacted the surrounding communities for 28 years.
Located in Dong Mafai sub-district of Nong Bua Lam Phu province the local community successfully managed to close down the quarry pressuring the authorities not to renew the mining licences and by setting up a roadblock on the only access road to the quarry in late 2020.
The conflict began in the early 1990s, between communities surrounding a collection of limestone outcrops in Nong Bua Lamphu’s Suwannakhuha district and a private mining company determined to mine one of these mountains for stone. Fearing the mine’s environmental impact and infuriated by the lack of public consultation, a local community group tried to stop it, organising protests and voicing their concerns.
It was only in recent years that the community was finally able to stop the mine but not before 4 members of the community had been killed during what was one of Thailand’s most dangerous and longest environmental struggles.
The surrounding communities were impacted by the mine’s daily explosions and it also occupied 28 hectares (175 rai) of community forest, preventing locals from collecting mushrooms, bamboo and herbs like they have done for generations.
In addition, many of the rocky outcrops in the area are sacred religious sites, with nearby caves full of thousands of Buddha statues and even cave paintings that date back 3000 years according to the The Fine Art Department of the Ministry of Culture. One of the aims of the community is to turn it into an area that attracts tourism.
So, on August 12th the local community, supporters and 9 civil society groups who travelled across Thailand to take part in the celebrations took part in a tree planting ceremony in the quarry itself to reforest the destroyed area. Then, on August 13th a merit making procession took place throughout nearby villages followed by a discussion forum at the roadblock itself where groups in similar situations were able to share similar experiences, challenges and possible solutions.
To read more about the story of Dong Mafai you can visit https://hardstories.org/stories/natural-resources/a-rural-communitys-struggle-against-a-quarry
Image copyright HaRDstories