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Electricity Projects Surveyed in Chin State

20 August 2011: With an announcement made last month by the Ministry of Industry No. 2 to provide electricity to 5,000 villages across Burma, Chief Minister of Chin State is said to have started conducting initial surveys in Chin State.

Ex-General Mr. Hung Ngai said one of the projects that will provide electricity to Hakha, the capital of Chin State, is scheduled to be completed before the end of next year, according to a local government employee.

“66 KV high-tension transmission electric power lines will be installed connecting Kyaw town of Gangaw Township, Magway Division and Hakha, with three points of substations at a distance of 10 miles in between,” Chin State Chief Minister said.

U Win Myint, Assistant Director of the Ministry of Industry No. 2, said electricity will be supplied through solar panels, wind turbines, bio gas, hydro-turbines and diesel generators, according to the Myanmar Times.

But he also said that, under the five-year project, villagers will be selected based on their proposals and recommendations by the Chief Ministers of each State and Region.

U Win Myint remarked that a survey has been started in Chin State, adding the villages would come up with plans on how to manage the facilities and to fund the maintenance.

The cost of electricity installations are to be paid in a shared contribution by the ministry, the village or in some cases donors, according to U Win Myint of a ministry with massive budget boost with an allocation of $185million.

He also made an indication that both the local and international organisations are welcomed for collaboration in the electricity projects in the country.

The recent visit to Chin State by Mandalay-based Indian Consul General Dr. Madan Mhohan Sethi followed a ‘controversial’ donation of $6million for the development of Burma’s northwestern state, where the fund is reportedly set to be used in health, education, and social development.

India’s donation to its bordering state for the first time of its kind has received mixed feelings from the Chin communities worldwide.

Some Chin leaders in exile are much ‘bewildered’ by the motives behind the ‘unanticipated’ financial contribution of the Indian Government while many others cautiously welcome in light of development purposes soon after the Consul’s visit, the first in Chin State.

A source from Hakha Town said that an additional $2million has been given for road constructions in Chin State by the Indian Government.

Meanwhile, concern has been raised over the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transport Project being implemented in Chin and Arakan States about possible negative consequences for the local population, including possible use of forced labor and displacement.

The mega development project, a joint undertaking between the Indian government and the military junta, involves the construction of a sea port in Sittwe of Arakan State, an inland water terminal in Paletwa of Chin State, as well as construction of a transnational highway from Paletwa up to India’s Mizoram border.

As of last month, the state-run electricity supply, which are only available in some bigger towns of Chin State, has been reported ‘unreliable and limited’ as the locals get power only twice a week for two or three hours a day.

The locals in some parts of Chin State have only been able to get electricity in their ‘limited’ areas through electric generators mostly purchased with the help and contribution from Chin people living abroad.

With 73 percent of its population living under the poverty line, Chin State has been ranked the poorest among the 14 states and divisions in Burma, according to a report ‘Poverty Profile’ published last month by the UNDP.

Van Biak Thang
[email protected]

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