Over 1,000 signatures have so far been collected on a petition against building a coal-fired power plant in Karen State, according to local activists.
Saw Aung Than Htwe from Htone Taung village said that around 1,300 signatures have been collected in 20 villages in Hpa-an township, as well as in Ta Kaung Boe and U Daung village tracts in Hlaingbwe township since June 28.
He added that the petition will soon be submitted to the Karen State Chief Minister.
A joint Japanese and Thai engineering firm, Toyo Thai Corporation Public Company Limited, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Karen State government in April to carry out a feasibility survey for a 1800-megawatt coal-fired power plant. The company has also met with local residents.
But community members and local environmental groups have raised concerns about the potential impacts from coal plant emissions, including air pollution with the potential to trigger public health issues.
“It’s not that we don’t want the electricity or are against construction of a power plant. [The problem is that] actually, we already have two cement factories in Hpa-an township that have caused too many dust particles. We don’t want more construction of factories that will emit dust participles. If they want to build it, build it somewhere else,” said one local resident of Hpa-an.
Organizations and activists have called on the government to look to greener solutions for building up the state’s underdeveloped energy supply.
“We can’t accept what they are trying to do here since [coal-fired power] has been rejected by other countries. We don’t want to make any sacrifices. So we will submit [the petition] to the Karen State Chief Minister as the first step,” Saw Aung Than Htwe said.
Over 30 civil society organizations from Karen State and 114 organizations from across the country issued a statement opposing the coal-fired power project on June 21.