Mon Groups Demand Toyo-Thai Coal Plant Suspension

By Moe Myint 10 March 2016

RANGOON — Mon State civil society organizations are demanding that the incoming National League for Democracy (NLD) government suspend a Thai-backed coal power plant project in Ye Township.

Toyo-Thai Corp. signed a memorandum of agreement with the Ministry of Electric Power’s Department of Hydropower Planning to construct the 1,280-megawatt plant last April. Locals have been outspoken in their opposition to the coal plant ever since.

On Wednesday, Par-Lain Youth Organization and the Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) held a press conference in Rangoon to voice their disapproval.

Nai Ka Sauh Mon, a HURFOM co-founder, said the current Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) government ignored the objections of the local community, which had protested the power plant numerous times. Opponents have taken issue with what they say is the project’s lack of transparency.

Andin village resident Ni Mar Oo said the Andin Youth Network wouldn’t support any project that would harm their natural resources.

“We will support the project if it doesn’t disrupt our livelihoods or our environment,” he said.

Critics also worry about associated health risks.

Jossue Jate, a coordinator at Mekong Watch, said she found health problems related to coal projects in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. Villagers from Indonesia developed coughs and suffered illnesses because of the air pollution, she said, warning against the project in Mon State.

‘‘[Japan] has faced many challenges with coal [power] plants,” she said. “Myanmar should be very cautious about the coal plant.’’

The Toyo-Thai group plans to invest $2.7 billion and to complete the construction in 2020, according to its website. Mon State groups say the coal plant could displace residents across 370 acres of land and could adversely affect seven neighbouring villages and 3,858 acres of farmland.

“If the new government continues the project, we will be against it,’’ said Ye Township resident Nandar Aung.