Anti-coal power plant protesters stopped in Kayin
Myanmar Times 10 November 2017 | Naw Betty Han
Authorities on Tuesday blocked residents from demonstrating at the site of a proposed coal power plant in Hpa-an township in Kayin State, to express their opposition to the facility.
The protesters, carrying placards inscribed with “We don’t want, No coal”, were not allowed to go near the plant, according to Saw Eh Doe Soe, one of the demonstrators.
“The government does not want to hear the people’s sentiment about the plant, so they block every movement of ours in various ways,” he said.
Police officers impounded the cars of some protesters after they were found to be without licenses. So the protesters have to walk to Hpa-an, according to Saw Eh Doe Soe.
‘’If they want to take actions on the cars without licenses, they could have impounded a lot more vehicles but they just chose cars of residents who came for the demonstration. It was a kind of discrimination,” said another demonstrator Naw Eh Wah.
But the chief of Hpa-an township’s police force, U Hmue Zaw Win, said that they were just taking actions on cars without licenses based on orders of the Kayin State police superintendent.
“We are always checking for unlicensed cars and impound them as this is the border state of Thailand. We are just carrying out our responsibility and their cars will be released if they have licenses, if not they will be seized. It does not matter where they came from or what they do,” he said.
U Hmue Zaw Win said that the administrative office had informed the police that the demonstration was not allowed by the authorities and action would be taken if they proceed.
But this car case was not related to it, he added.
Toyo Thai Power Myanmar Co Ltd will invest US$3 billion in the coal-fired factory which will be built in Wutt Kyi village ward, Hpa-an township, Kayin State. It will operate for 30 years. The plant has a capacity of 1,280 megawatts.
The Kayin chief minister come to the Wutt Kyi village on October 15 to discuss the importance of the power plant for the state but residents remained steadfast in opposing the construction of the plant.
“The reason we want to stop it is because the government can’t give assurance that this coal-fired power plant will boost the development of the Kayin State,” said Saw Me Bwe Doh, leader of the protest.
“If it will give side effects, who will solve them as the present state government will only be in power until 2020 while the factory will operate for over 20 years.’’