May 24, 2012 By Daniel Pedersen
THAI investors looking to bankroll a road linking Mae Sot with Pa-an in Karen State Burma may be forced to cool their heels or face renewed hostilities as they attempt pave the planned new thoroughfare.
The Karen National Union sees nothing to gain for local inhabitants from building the road.
“That is part of the Asia Highway, we oppose that because it would destroy virgin forest,” said KNU vice president David Tharckabaw.
“While there is not a durable peace it shouldn’t be started otherwise we may have to start fighting again,” he said from the Thai-Burma border.
“There is no proper survey, all we will have is destruction of the forest, of the environment,” he said.
“And when they are building the road there will be loggers, loggers will come and cut down everything.
“They will cut down the rubber trees and then streams will dry up because there are no rubber trees, they have to clear the ground [for the road] and that helps evaporate the ground water.
“It is better to have grass and jungle to maintain the watershed,” said Mr Tharckabaw.
“We will try our best, but if we have development, in the name of development big businesses will come in and just exploit it, all the natural resources [will be wrecked] without concern for the environment then the land will become desolate.”
Mr Tharckabaw said the environment was critical to the survival of the Karen race.
“The people are threatened in the hills, but not only the hills, that will effect the people in towns and cities also – very hot weather, warming, we cannot predict, but it is very likely.”
He said in matters of the environment and maintaining sustainable human settlements caution was the best course of action.