Mon Groups Pledge to Block Coal Power Plant

By Lawi Weng 26 August 2016

One of the resolutions which came out of the three-day Mon National Conference has been to stand against the use of a coal power plant by a cement company in Mon State’s Kyaikmayaw Township.

Mawlamyine Cement Limited (MCL) has moved forward with plans to power a cement factory with coal, despite objections from local ethnic Mon in the area concerned with pollution and the degradation of water sources.

Held in the Taung Pauk area of Karen State, 446 representatives from civil society, political parties, and the New Mon State Party (NMSP) attended the eighth Mon National Conference from Aug. 22-24. The main issue of discussion was that of federalism, in preparation for the Union Peace Conference beginning on Aug. 31, which the NMSP is slated to attend.

“We intended to form one voice from this three-day meeting. This will show how we have unity, and our ideas will support upcoming 21st Century Panglong conference, which intends to build a federal system in the country,” said Nai Win Hla, an executive member of the NMSP, on the group’s preparation for the peace conference.

Yet the issue of the coal plant also took precedence at the event, as representatives promised to collectively oppose the action by MCL. Rights activists expressed concern about the effect of coal power on the local community, and said that MCL “should find another way” to power their cement factory.

“We will not stop their job, or their transport of cement,” said Nai Win Hla. “We will block their transportation of coal. We know how they transport their coal—they use ships.”

The MCL factory is a subsidiary of the Siam Cement Group, based in Thailand, and is expected to produce 1.8 million tonnes of cement annually. It is located near the Zami River, which serves as a source of water for at least five villages nearby.