Narinjara news


Sittwe, 20 February 02 : 
Troops of the Myanmar Army are busy forcibly collecting charcoal in Ponnagyun township in the south-western state of Myanmar, according to a charcoal trader from Sittwe.   
The charcoal making has been more profitable than rice farming this year since the rice farmers have been compelled to 'sell' more quantity of rice at throwaway prices this year than ever to the State Peace and Development junta.       In recent dry months, the villagers around the Bey-nga-ra ranges in the township, are seen burning firewood and making charcoal in pits and caves in the hills.  A kyin (100 cft) or gu of charcoal fetches a price of about kyat 20,000 depending upon quality. 

In a typical working day villagers could be seen vigorously working in the villages of Bajun-cheik, Mrat-lay, Kanaing-daung,Thay-do, Poh-ri-gung, Taung-na-rwah, Kyang-talinn, Kraing-khin, Paing-neela, Aung-pru-brang,  and Yoe-nguung at the foothills of the Bay-nga-ra ranges.   Compared to last year, this year's production of charcoal is expected to double. 

The Myanmar troops from Light Infantry Battalion 550 led by Sergeant Aung Tint are forcing the charcoal makers  to give them 30 viss (120 lbs) of charcoal on a monthly basis for each charcoal-producing family in the villages beginning 26th January 2002.  Previously the troops collected 40 lbs of charcoal from each household in November 2001.  One viss of charcoal used in cooking is now selling at kyat 50 in Sittwe.
All the households in Sittwe and other towns of Rakhine State have to depend upon charcoal as there is a supply of electricity below normal voltage only on every third day, and that too only in the evening hours.  The supply  of kerosene oil is not enough to meet the requirements of the general people, too. #