Locals in Ah Nin village, Thanbyuzayat Township, are concerned over a contract between the Mon State government and Bedok Construction and Engineering (BCE) Co. Ltd. to provide electricity to communities in the area. Villagers are worried about the potential use of coal-powered plants to fulfill Mon State Chief Minister Dr. Aye Zan’s promise to bring electricity to many of Mon State’s communities.
In addition, the Mon State Chief Minister also confirmed an agreement with local businessman U Sein Warn to establish an electrical power plant in Ah Nin village. U Sein Warn is a representative from the Myanmar Lighting Co. Ltd. which already provides 230 megawatts of electricity to Ngan Tae Ward, Mawlamyine.
According to Nai Pa Lon Ga Ta, a local activist from Ah Nin village, U Sein Warn has already bought about 500 acres of land in the region.
“We don’t oppose development projects. But now, there has been no transparency. For instance, we don’t know if they will use clean energy for the electrical power plant. If they do so, the electricity fee will be expensive and they won’t get much profit. But if they use coal, they can reduce the cost. We want electricity but we also worry about coal-fired power plants,” said Nai Pa Lon Ga Ta.
The development project promised by the Mon State Chief Minister has become controversial amongst local villagers and some have voiced that they will oppose the project. Moreover, some villagers are unable to decide whether to sell their land to the project or not.
“They said they would provide development to our region. They said they would build roads and provide electricity. Their development project needs about 5,000 acres of land. Now U Sein Warn has sent a representative to buy land and I think, they already got about 500 acres of land. Some villagers had known nothing about the project and just sold their land. Some are aware of the project and haven’t sold their land to U Sein Warn. Now we have been advocating for people to not sell their land to U Sein Warn. They said they will use clean energy. But when we look at the [coal powered] Kyaikmayaw Cement Factory, they had already started the project and continued their project even though the locals opposed them. So we must conduct a good preventative campaign before the project starts,” continued Nai Pa Lon Ga Ta.
Mawlamyine Cement Limited’s (MCL) coal-fired power plant in Kyaikmayaw Township, Mon State, which began full operations earlier this year, has generated large amounts of controversy and opposition among local residents who claim it has damaged the environment, including water resources, aquatic life, and local farmland.
In order to monitor local development projects in the Ah Nin village region, villagers from Ah Nin and its surrounding villages have formed an environmental organization named the Ah Nin Region Environmental Conservation Group.
The Mon State government and BCE signed a multi-development project agreement for Ah Nin village on March 9th 2017 in Mawlamyine. HURFOM was unable to confirm if the projects have received approval from the Union Government.
*This article is reported by and first published on HURFOM’s website.