Thursday, June 9, 2016

Resistance to MCL’s coal-fired power plant heats up

Public opposition to the Mawlamyine Cement Limited (MCL)’s coal-fired power plant grew over the weekend with the announcement of a protest campaign led by local residents, monks, and members of Pyartaung Region Development Organization in Kyaikmayaw Township, Mon State.

Despite local appeals to halt power plant activities, the company continues to prepare for operations, according to residents.

“It has been 20 days already since they started testing the coal-fired power plant by burning coal. They test it at night after 9 or 10 PM. They skip three or four days and then test it again. We can see the smoke from our village,” said Nai Mit, a resident of Katonzi Village.

Organizers plan to put up billboards in 20 locations across the Pyartaung region and distribute pamphlets outlining coal-fired power’s negative impacts in the hopes of catching the company’s attention.

“We sent petitions opposing the coal-fired plant. But the MCL ignored them and continues as planned. It is like they do not care about what the locals want. We will set up billboards so that everyone can see what we are doing,” said Ma Ni Ni Aung, a resident of Kawdon Village near the MCL factory site.

On April 25, local opponents of the project sent a petition to the Mon State Hluttaw with approximately 4,000 signatures urging cessation of plant activities. In response, the state parliament said it would review the petition, according to Dr. Aung Naing Oo, Deputy Speaker of the State Hluttaw.

For now, the group plans to display vinyl billboards from Taranar to Katonzi village, in Kyaikmayaw Township, on June 4.

Construction on the project broke ground in 2014. MCL plans to produce at least 5,000 tons of cement daily, with operations slated to begin in mid-2016.