Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Protest in Ye Town against Coal-Fired Power Plant


More than 400 locals joined the Ye Social Society (YSS) group to protest against the Toyo Thai Group’s proposed coal-fired power plant, which is to be constructed near Aunden Village in Ye Township, Mon State.

The protesters gathered in Ye Town on the morning of 14th December and marched through the town shouting slogans, in both the Mon and Burmese languages.

Locals March in Ye Town to Protest against the Coal-Fired Power Plant
They called for: “No coal-fired power in Aunden”; “Stop the coal-fired power project now”; “We do not want the Toyo Thai Company”; and “We do not want coal-fired power in our area”. Protesters also carried signs, which said, “We strongly object to the coal-fired power project in Aunden” and “To preserve our environment, let’s protest against the coal-fired plant”.

YSS members led local Aunden residents, activists, and local members of the 88 Generation Peace and Open Society in the protest. They wore T-shirts that said “No Coal”, as well as traditional Mon dress.

About twenty police officers were stationed along the protest route to provide security.
At the same time as the protest ten people, including representatives from the local population, the state hluttaw (parliament) and the media, had been sent on a trip by the Toyo Thai Co. to observe and study coal-fired power plants in Japan and Thailand.
YSS Secretary Ko Aung Naing Win said: “We [the YSS] have opposed this project since it was planned. We have already vowed that we would protest strongly against this project, till it is stopped.”

He said that though the YSS had submitted a request to Ye Township police on 5th December for permission to allow 500 people to join the protest, the police had only given permission for 400 people to attend.

Ko Aye Htun, a local villager from Asin Village in Ye Township said: “In our Ye Township area we mainly fish and on land we have rubber plantations, betel nut, and lime orchards. So, when this coal-fired plant is constructed it will pollute the water, killing fish and sea plants, while also producing ash that will spread all over the rubber trees, and damage the rubber leaves. When there are no leaves, the rubber trees will not be able to produce rubber sap. I joined this protest as I know about these negative impacts.”

According to pamphlets distributed by the YSS, ashes emitted from the coal-fired plant could damage rubber and betel trees and other seasonal fruit trees, severely reducing their harvests.

The pamphlets also stated that the coal-fired power plant project will have the capacity to produce 1,280 Megawatts of electricity by using 12,000 tons of coal. To cool the plant it will need 210,000 liters of water, which will be warmed by ten degrees Centigrade before being dumped back into the sea.

According to the Toyo Thai Group Co. Ltd they signed a contract with Burma’s Ministry of Electric Power on 23rd March 2013 to construct a coal-fired plant with an output potential of 1,280 Megawatts in Ye Township’s Aunden area.

The Toyo Thai Group is planning to invest $2.7 billion USD in the project.