RANGOON— A Thai-based corporation is asking Burma’s president for support after facing public opposition to its plans to build a coal-fired power plant in Mon State.
Toyo-Thai Corporation Public Company Limited (TTCL) contacted the Ministry of Electric Power earlier this month to request permission from the President’s Office to build a 1,280 megawatt power plant in Inn Din village, Ye Township, at a cost of US$2.7 billion.
“We have to submit requests of any companies that come to us,” said Aye San, the deputy director general of the ministry’s department of hydropower planning.
There are two coal-fired power plants in Burma currently, in southern Shan State and Tenasserim Division. The President’s Office is considering 20 plans to build more, Aye San said, adding that approved requests would also require permission from state and divisional governments.
Ye Social Service, a community-based organization in Ye Township, has launched a signature campaign to object to Toyo-Thai’s plans in Mon State.
“We don’t want coal-fired plants to be built, not only in Inn Din village but anywhere in the country,” said Ni Thway, a communication officer at Ye Social Service. “Coal produces a lot of negative side effects. We can accept a plant that uses natural gas, but coal power plants are twice as harmful to the environment.”
Aung Naing Oo, a lawmaker from Chaung Sone Township, Mon State, said he submitted an objection report on the project to the Mon State government in July after meeting with local residents. “The [state] government has not replied with its opinion of the project to the [state] parliament yet,” he told The Irrawaddy. “We explained that the public does not accept the project. It will have a negative impact on the people, and the government should not accept it.”
He added that he would submit his objection report to the President’s Office and the Union Parliament if the state government did not respond. “The [state] government’s opinion on the project is important for the Union government to make a decision,” he said.
Toyo-Thai previously attempted to build the coal-fired power plant in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone near Rangoon, according to the Ministry of Electric Power, but was not able to acquire land for the project from the Rangoon divisional government.
The Thai-based corporation is a joint venture of Italian-Thai Development, one of the biggest contractors in Thailand, and Toyo Engineering Corporation, an international engineering company in Japan. It signed a memorandum of understanding with Burma’s Ministry of Electric Power in 2012 and opened a joint-venture gas-fired power plant in Rangoon the following year.
The $170 million gas-fired power plant became partly operational in April 2013, producing 80 megawatts of its expected full capacity, 120 megawatts. The Export-Import Bank of Thailand has provided a $100 million loan to Toyo-Thai for remaining construction costs and running expenses, with full operational capacity expected later this year.