Translation from Transbordernews
Myeik, Myanmar : A group of Thai and Burmese journalists and writers joined a field trip to Mwe Shaung villager, Myeik, Tanintharyi Region (Southern Myanmar), to conduct fact-finding on the Thai-invested coal-fired powerplant. Previously in 2014 a Thai energy firm Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding PCL. (RATCH) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Department of Hydropower Planning, Ministry of Electric Power of Myanmar to develop 2,640-megawatt project, jointly with other three companies. Most of electricity was planned to export to Thailand. However, in 2015 Myanmar government announced to postpone the project due to strong oppositions from local residents.
Aw Puk, a villager at Mwe Shaung village said he was hopeful towards this government’s policy not to revive the coal-fired project. “Renewable and clean options would be better. I was in Shan state to learn about impacts of coal-fired powerplant. There are adverse health and environmental impacts on local communities. Newborn death rate is high. I don’t think a powerplant is more important than our foods, rivers, and farms. You might have the brightness, electricity. But what is the use of it, if people are suffering?, he said.”
Villagers said they started their campaign since 2012, to raise awareness of local communities and public. They organized several meetings among affected communities, campaign actions with civil society, and generate public debate on the project.
An activist with the 88 Generation said the chief minister for Tanitharyi Region issued an order to postpone the coal-fired power plants and projects in the region, as the elected government listened to people.
“People of Myeik have always expressed our serious concerns on the coal plants. We will not accept any project. I believe that any company to invest in the new Myanmar realizes about this fact. Our region’s population is just around 1.5 millions. We will only need installed capacity not more than 5-20 megawatt. There are a lot of natural resources in our region. But they have only been for export, he said”