Aid sought from opposition

Aid sought from opposition

A network of patients affected by gold mining in Phichit has submitted a petition to the opposition parties, asking them to scrutinise the government in the upcoming censure debate in May, in a bid to put the extension of gold producer Akara Resources Plc's licence on hold.

Several opposition parties led by Pheu Thai leader Cholnan Srikaew received the petition, submitted by a group of around 30 people, yesterday.

Premsinee Sintontammatuch, a human rights defender, said since the beginning of Akara's mining in 2001, the surrounding environment and local residents' health had been affected. The company's operations were suspended on Jan 1, 2017.

In 2014, local residents petitioned the Prime Minister's Office about the mining issues, prompting a close examination of the mine's surrounding area.

After testing samples -- urine and blood -- were collected from local residents, 401 people were found with heavy metal content in their bodies surpassing safelevels. Ms Premsinee said the network then asked the government to provide help and recheck local residents' health more broadly.

The network urged the government to revoke the renewal of Akara's gold mining concession and metallurgical licence, and put the brakes on the new mining concession bidding until an Environmental Health Impact Assessment (EHIA) is conducted.

Furthermore, the government must establish a buffer zone between the mine and the local community with at least a five-kilometre radius and prosecute those who renewed the concession, she said.

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