Myanmar Government Rejects Motion to Shutter Polluting Chinese-Owned Coal Plant

Myanmar’s authorities on Tuesday rejected a Shan state member of parliament’s proposal to shutter a Chinese-owned coal-fired energy plant residents of his area say has exceeded land use specs, severely polluted the native atmosphere, and jeopardized their well being and livelihoods.

Shan Nationalities League for Democracy (SNLD) celebration lawmaker Sai Tun Aye proposed the movement not to lengthen the operation interval of the Tigyit coal-fired energy plant in Shan state’s Taunggyi district to a parliamentary session within the capital Naypyidaw, citing the considerations of his constituents, however was rebuffed by Deputy Minister of Electricity and Energy Khin Maung Win.

“My answer to the proposal from Sai Tun Aye is that, while the power generation is not very efficient for the region, we do benefit from this plant as it is capable of distributing some amount of electricity to the people,” Khin Maung Win stated on the session.

The deputy minister famous that there “is no record from the [Pinlaung] township health department” which reveals that the plant has had a damaging influence on native well being and the atmosphere, and stated the power additionally advantages native farmers by distributing water.

Wuxi Huaguang Electric Power Engineering Co. Ltd., a Chinese vitality firm specializing in coal energy, operates the plant in Tigyit village. It took over Myanmar’s largest coal mine—situated about 1.5 miles away—in 2002 to feed the 120-megawatt plant, which turned the nation’s first coal-fired energy venture when it went on-line in 2005.

Khin Maung Win stated Tuesday that when Wuxi Huaguang started upgrading the plant in 2016, the federal government gave the corporate permission to function the power on an annual foundation till 2019, after which authorities granted it the appropriate to achieve this for a further three years “because it ran the plant according to the law.”

In the meantime, an analysis committee consisting of native residents, the Shan state authorities, a bunch from the Pa-O Self-Administered Zone that oversees Pinlaung township, and the Ministry of Electricity and Energy have been frequently checking in on the plant to guarantee it complies with working requirements, he stated.

He added that the plant employs 318 employees—greater than 200 of whom are residents of the area.

Mountains of coal are piled close to a pasture in Tigyit village, Pinlaung township, in Myanmar’s northern Shan state, August 2019.
Credit: RFA video screenshot

Plant tradeoffs

Responding to Khin Maung Win’s feedback on Tuesday, Sai Tun Aye informed RFA’s Myanmar Service that the deputy minister had failed to tackle the central premise of residents’ complaints he put forth in his proposal.

“The minister’s answer was that they burn coal and we get power, which is a benefit,” he stated.

“What I meant was whether it is a good project when you compare the environmental damages to the benefits we get,” he added.

“Does the plant support society or simply the country’s economy? If we are only getting a little bit of energy in exchange for the health and environment of the local people, we should reconsider renewing permission for the plant.”

Sai Tun Aye famous that residents and native civil society organizations (CSOs) have held repeated protests over the plant’s influence and stated that it ought to solely be permitted to proceed working whether it is upgraded to use worldwide requirements for disposing of coal byproducts.

According to the Myanmar Times, the Tigyit plant was closed in 2014 for ignoring a waste administration request issued by the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, which had obtained complaints concerning the influence of waste from the power on the encircling atmosphere.

The following yr, Wuxi Huaguang was granted a 22-year license by the federal government to recommence operations after it pledged to improve the plant and conduct the mandatory waste administration procedures.

But regardless of the improve and Khin Maung Win’s insistence that the plant has since operated according to the pursuits of the group, resident Sein Thaung informed RFA that it’s “really destroying the environment” by means of the air pollution of air and water, in addition to harm to native infrastructure.

“When they explode [gunpowder in the] coal mines, our houses vibrate and we are also subjected to landslides,” he stated, including that close by villages are additionally coping with a scarcity of water as a result of it has been diverted to the mine.

“It is true that our nation will get a little bit little bit of energy from this plant, however hundreds of individuals have develop into sick, our surroundings is destroyed, and we have now misplaced our land.

Reported by Thiha Htun for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

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