Government cancels Dawei coal-fired power plant

The renowned international environmental group, EarthRights International welcomed reports that the Burma government has canceled the planned 4,000-megawatt coal-fire power plant that was to be part of the US$60 billion Dawei development project in southern Burma.

EarthRights International’s Burma Project Director, Naing Htoo, told Karen News.

“We welcome the [Burma] government’s decision to cancel the power plant and to listen to the concerns of local people. We [EarthRights International] also want the government to listen to the people affected by other development projects in Burma. It is a good decision for the people who are affected, as well as for the environment and the potential of human rights abuses – forced relocation.”

On Monday this week, the Burma government’s Electricity minister, Khin Maung Soe, announced at a press conference in Rangoon that plans for the 4,000-megawatt coal-fire power plant would be cancelled.
Khin Maung Soe speaking to reporters said.

“We [the government] listened to the media, and studied the impact of a coal-fire power plant. After reading [the reports] we said it is not appropriate to have a coal-fire power plant. We decided to cancel the 4,000-megawatt coal-fire power plant.”

It was also reported that according to Electricity Board officials that the decision by the government to cancel the power plant was made after ‘listening to the people’s voice’.

EarthRights International’s Naing Htoo raised environmental questions about the impacts of components of the huge Dawei industrial complex.

“Another question is how will the company generate enough energy to power its industrial zone? It is possible the damming of the Tenasserim River is being targeted as an energy source. The company and the [Burma] government needs to carry out independent environmental and other assessments – they need to study the impact of all their energy sources on the environment and on the villagers human rights.”

EarthRights International is a US-based environment and human rights organization that legally campaigns against the negative impacts of foreign investment in Burma.

The Burma government’s announcement came after the indigenous Tavoyan people (Dawei Development Association) and local Karen villagers in the east of Dawei (also known as Tavoy) voiced their opposition against the building of ‘dirty industry’ in their area. Last Saturday the local groups launched an appeal to a delegation of Thailand’s senior ministers visiting Dawei. The Thai ministers included foreign affairs, energy, transport, industry and finance.

The decision to stop the Dawei power plants follows the Burma government’s recent cancellation of the Chinese funded Myitsone hydro-electric dam on the Irrawaddy River.

EarthRights Naing Htoo said.

“We don’t know yet what impact will have on relation between the government and the Thai company. But we know when the government stopped the Chinese company funded Myitsone Dam, the Chinese company was given gas contracts. It is too soon to know what the Burma government will offer the Thai company – the new deal may have bigger and more disastrous impact.”

China is Burma’s biggest foreign investor followed by Thailand at number two.

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