Coal Threatens to Rock the Boat Among Delta Islanders
By Nang Seng Nom 7 January 2016
NGAPUDAW TOWNSHIP, Irrawaddy Division — Less explored and more pristine than any of Burma’s more popular beaches, Gaw Yin Gyi island lies within Ngapudaw Township in Irrawaddy Division. Part of Nga Yoke Kaung sub-township, the island is accessible by boat after an eight-hour drive southwest of Rangoon.
Most locals on the island make their living by fishing, and despite the appearance here of a people leading peaceful existences set amid beautiful natural surroundings, a threat looms over residents of Nga Yoke Kaung, on the Irrawaddy Delta mainland, and nearby Gaw Yin Gyi island: ambitions to construct coal-fired power plants. The Burmese government, foreign firms and local companies all are eyeing these shores, as well as locations in Mon State and Tenasserim Division to the southeast.
While there is little doubt that much of Burma badly needs electricity, Gaw Yin Gyi islanders are not so sure that dirty, carbon-intensive coal is the answer.
“If there are coal-fired power plants, our lives will be gone as this beautiful beach will be gone too,” said Tin Aung Kyaw, a local resident.