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Burmese political parties object to coal-fired power plant

Chaing Mai (Mizzima) – Three Burmese political parties have agreed to raise objections against the coal-fired power plant in Kawthaung, Tanintharyi [Tenasserim] Region, according to party officials.

A coal-fired power plant in Kawthaung Township in southern Burma.The National League for Democracy (NLD), Democratic Party (Myanmar) and All Mon Region Democracy Party in Kawthaung Township held a joint meeting on Aug. 26 to discuss the project. 

“We will submit a written complaint directly to the Industry Ministry, and we will give a photocopy  to the [Tanintharyi] region’s chief minister. We will also give speeches about it to the public,” said Than Tun, a canvasser with the Democratic Party (Myanmar) in Tanintharyi Region.
In addition to the three parties, officials with the Kawthaung natural disaster management committee and Mom’s Home charity school (Kawthaung) attended the joint meeting at the office of Democratic Party (Myanmar).
Myo Lwin, an education official with Mom’s Home charity school, said, “The advantage is [Kawthaung] will be lit up with electricity. But, [generating] the electricity can shatter the life of children. So, as a teacher, I cannot let it happen.”
The power plant, which would generate 8 megawatts, is located between Shwepyitha and Ayeyeiknyein quarters in Kawthaung and owned by Than Phyo Thu Company Limited.

Meanwhile, the authorities are conducting a signature campaign to demonstrate support for the power plant, according to residents.

”They went to the quarters and told people that they will provide 150 units of electricity free of charge. Then they told the people to sign the petition in favour of the power plant’s operation in return for their offer,” said Maung Win, who lives in Shwepyitha Quarter, which is near the power plant.

He said the officials included the quarter administrative chief and street chiefs. Some of the residents support the power plant because they want electricity at lower prices while others oppose it because of possible consequences, said Myint Maung, a leader of a NLD-supported social organization in Kawthaung.

Opponents pointed out that the power plant is located just a few feet from some homes and the chimney of the power plant is just 40 feet above the ground. They said it is one-half mile from the Yinwa Reservoir, which people in Kawthaung rely on for drinking water.

On the other hand, officials at the power plant claim that the power plant will use efficient Chinese technology, which will not damage the environment.  
”There cannot be too many disadvantages because it is not near people. We do it near the shoreline. Chinese technology is very good,” an official at the power plant said.
On Aug. 6, opponents applied for permission to stage a peaceful protest against the plan, but the local authorities did not grant a permit because the estimated number of protestors was too large. Organizers applied for permission again at the Tanintharyi Region level, but authorities also rejected the request.

National League for Democracy [NLD] spokesman Nyan Win said that NLD headquarters knows about the coal-fired power plant located in Kawthaung, and it is still gathering information from experts. If the power plant is harmful to people, NLD will issue a statement against the power plant, said Nyan Win.
In Burma, there are total of seven coal-fired power plants in operation or being planned including the Tikyit power plant, which generates 120 MW, and the Mong Kok power plant, which generates 369 MW.

The remaining five coal-fired power plants are not yet operational, according to the 2011 report, “Poisonous Clouds,” by the Pa-O Youth organization.
A coal-fired power plant can emit carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide, which can cause acid rain, and tiny particles that can cause respiratory tract cancer. It could also emit other elements such as carbon monoxide, mercury and arsenic, which can pollute drinking water and sea life, say environmentalists.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 11 September 2012 13:31 )  

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