Local Communities Severely Affected by SPDC’s Coal Projects
22 January 2011: SPDC-monitored Burma’s largest coal mine and coal-fired power plant at Tigyit village in Shan State has threatened the health of local populations, forcing villages to relocate with over 500 acres of farmlands confiscated, a report revealed.
The report entitled Poison Clouds: Lessons from Burma’s Largest Coal Project at Tigyit published on 20 January 2011 by Pa-Oh Youth Organisation (PYO) in partnership with Kyoju Action Network (KAN) said the lives of nearly 12,000 people living within a five-mile radius of the project are being threatened.
Khun Chankhe of the Pa-Oh Youth Organisation said: “Our skies and waters are turning black. What future is there for our children who are growing up in a toxic wasteland?”
Up to two thousand tons of lignite, the most polluting type of coal, are being extracted per day from a massive open cast mine at Tigyit village, about thirteen miles away from Burma’s famous Inle Lake, the report exposed.
The report also said coal is burned at the nearby power plant, producing 100-150 tons of toxic fly ash daily.
“The government is using energy resources for its own profit and leaving us to deal with the pollution and destruction of our communities. This project should be stopped and its impacts properly assessed, especially to our treasured Inle Lake.”
To date 50% of the local population is suffering from skin rashes, according to the report.
Dump piles from the mine are now towering above the homes of 3,000 people, blocking streams and contaminating fields. Dust and emissions, including from poisonous waste scattered on local roadways, is seriously degrading air quality.
The report said electricity produced at the Tigyit power plant is sent to another mining project run by Russian and Italian companies. This follows the trend in Burma’s energy sector of exploiting natural resources not for the development of the country’s people but for sale to the highest bidders.
With Tigyit being Burma’s biggest open pit coal mine producing nearly 2,000 tons of coal every day, Burma is currently building three other coal-fired power plants and planning an additional four plants, including a massive 4,000 Megawatt plant in the southern port town of Dawei. There are over 16 large-scale coal deposits in Burma, with total coal resources of over270 Million tons (Mt).
The Pa-Oh Youth Organisation, formed in 1996, is committed to striving for peace and justice in Burma through empowering youth, and to monitoring and educating communities of the environmental and social impacts brought upon by mining projects. Set up in 2010, the Kyoju Network (KAN) aims to strengthen communities’ capacity to protect their natural resources.
Van Biak Thang