Over 2,000 local Pyar Taung residents participate in demonstration against coal-power plant
March 1, 2017
HURFOM: On February 18, 2017, over 2,000 locals from Pyar Taung region demonstrated against the use of a coal-power plant to provide electricity for the local cement factory in Kyaikmayaw Township, Mon State. The cement factory, built by Mawlamyine Cement Limited (MCL), is located between Kaw Don and Kaw Panor villages in Kyaikmayaw Township, Mon State. MCL, a joint-venture between Siam Cement Group (SCG) and Pacific Link Cement Industries (PLCI), has been operating since September 2016.
According to Nai Mit from Ka Don Si village, “we would like to prevent the usage of coal-power plants in our area. If the company MCL was good, we wouldn’t need to demonstrate. It is also dangerous for the health of the community. If the factory affects our land and water, our community can’t accept this kind of factory in our community. The locals understand about the impact of using coal-power; therefore, they demonstrate to stop the usage of coal-power plants for the factory.”
Villagers assert that officials from MCL told them that they would build a cement factory; however, they neglected to mention that the factory would include a coal plant to produce electricity.
“In the past, the locals were united and their lives were very simple and peaceful. They also helped each other. After the company came, the land and farms were destroyed. The villagers do not communicate well and they are not united anymore,” said a monk in Kaw Pa Not village.
The purposes of the demonstration are to avoid damage to the environment in Pyar Taung region; to maintain the historical Buddhist images and caves in those areas; and to stop the use of coal-power plants to provide electricity for the cement factory. A committee of activists from Pyar Taung region led the activity and approximately 2,000 people from 11 villages in Kyaikmayaw Township participated in the demonstration.
“The papers [protest signs] we mainly held stated: “No Coal!” We delivered the papers [to the villagers in advance] and the villagers carried the papers on their way to the protest event. We’ve also recorded the number of participants. The villagers will shout out five slogans: Don’t harm our historic heritage; Protect water resources; Don’t destroy our nature and environment; No dynamite [for stone mining]; and No coal-fired power plant,” said a Ka Don Si resident.
This is the first protest to oppose the use of coal in supplying power for the Mawlamyine Cement Factory in Kyaikmayaw Township.
“Everyone knows that coal is harmful. Moreover, this factory isn’t constructed by professionals [built to international standards for health and safety]. So it’s likely to produce more consequences related to health,” said Venerable Monk But-Dan-Da Thu-Ma-Na, the abbot of Thu-Ma-Nar Yar-Ma Monastery in Kaw Pa Not village.
“The main purpose of our protest is that we oppose the use of coal. Even though we opposed the use of coal, they don’t stop the coal-fired power plant. So we organized this protest. We don’t want coal in our region. This protest targets only one thing: coal,” said Than Htike Aung, a Ka Don Si resident.
“If the Mawlamyine Cement Factory does not stop the use of coal after the protest, Pyar Taung region residents of Kyaikmayaw Township will surely continue their fight against the coal-fired power plant until they win,” said a member of Pyar Taung Region Development Group.