Andin villagers fight off a 2nd mega-project threatening their livelihoods and community

November 26, 2019

HURFOM: Toyo Thai Company Ltd. tried to build a 1,280-megawatt coal-fired power plant near Andin village, Ye Township, Mon State in 2015.  The project was valued at 2.8 million dollars USD.

Andin residents developed an extensive understanding of the environmental impacts such a project would mean for their community. They systematically organized a united opposition, and were able to have the initiative suspended in early 2016.  

Although residents successfully stalled this first mega-development project, now a second mega-project is being planned. 

Forever Thanlwin Company Limited (FTCL) recently announced its interest to build an offshore supply base near Andin village. These types of  projects involve building a sea wall near land to allow for large ships to dock and transport machinery and supplies. They are a critical component for offshore oil and gas exploration initiatives and Myanmar is currently one of the world’s hotspots for offshore oil & gas exploration. 

FTCL had notified the public they would hold a consultation meeting as part of a legally  required Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure. A third party, called Sea Trust Co., Ltd was to conduct the meeting set for November 14, 2019.

Villagers issued a public statement opposing the project two days before the consultation meeting.  On the day of the meeting villagers were organized and held up signs with their message “no offshore supply base.”  

Forever Thanlwin Company never showed up for EIA consultation.

We have been against this project before. No matter how many (times) they want to negotiate, we will keep opposing it. The company has come here often to measure the land and water. This EIA procedural meeting was not [shared] with local people ahead of time. We only knew of it from the news, ” stated Ko Htwe, from a Andin youth group.

Villagers are concerned about environmental and social impacts of the project.  Fish species can decline to the point of extinction when sea walls are constructed disrupting  ocean wave patterns and creating lasting effects on the small-scale fishery community of Andin.

It will doom our fishery community if they build the offshore supply base. As the boat can’t shift and the fish will be less too. The water may hit the shore when it can’t flow as there is a wall that blocks them. If it happens like that all things will be destroyed. We could not fish anymore when there are big ships travelling [to and from the supply base], ” said U Lwin, a fishermen in Hta Min Seit village.

Another potential implication of the project is that the Hta Min Seit village might need to be relocated and 1,400 of villagers who rely on farming, plantation gardening and fishery could lose their livelihoods if the offshore supply base is built.

In addition, local villagers are concerned that an increase of  migrant workers needed for the construction of the base may add to social conflicts, increase cultural and/or ethnic tensions, or add to religious disputes and generally provoke xenophobia and nationalism controversies.

The problem of the coal-fired power project has not been finished yet, this offshore supply project is causing local people more fear. That is why we did not accept this project,” said one of the Andin villagers.

About 1,000 of villagers have signed a petition opposing the construction of the offshore supply base and it has been submitted to the Andin Village Administrator, the Land Records and Irrigation Departments and the Mon State Chief Minister as of the 29th of March 2017.

All of the monks, senior people, villagers and youth in this area do not accept this project. There is no transparency from the company side. There is no pre-notification. The problem of a coal-fired power has not yet disappeared. As for me, I will not accept any project and same for the will of the villagers,” said U Soe Moe Kyaw, Village Administrator of Andin village.

Due to villagers opposition and solidarity, the company cancelled the planned EIA procedural meeting. It is hard to predict when the company will come again. Andin villagers had once overcome plans for a coal-fired power plant but are now waiting to see if they can, again overcome a 2nd mega project –the construction of an offshore supply base.

Forever Thanlwin Company Limited

Forever Thanlwin Company Limited is a private company and was registered on February 24, 2017, according to a Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) statement.

The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) granted FTCL permission to receive both domestic and international investments for livestock, seaport, hotel and hospital projects.  FTCL is one of eight companies that was granted this investment permission in February 2018.

MIC indicated this permission was based on an agreement and recommendation made by state governments and particular ministries.

Forever Thanlwin and Andin Offshore supply

MIC also issued a permit to FTCL on 2 February 2018 to allow for the construction of an offshore supply base on 68.11 acres of land (No.1249) in Hta Min Seit village in Andin village tract, Ye Township, Mon State. According to FCTL’s Managing Director, U Zaw Min Aung, this project represents over 60 million-dollars of investment to the region.

Plans for the project date back to 2012. 

The company tried to hold meetings with local people in May 20, 2017 but the villagers declined to participate.

According to Senior Monk Ah Shin Nanda from Andin village, this offshore supply project may be somehow connected with coal-fired plant which they successfully opposed in 2015-16.

However, U Zaw Min Aung has denied this offshore project is related to coal-fired power plant project.

The proposed Offshore Supply Base near Andin would service Ye Ta Kon and Zaw Tika Fuel and gas extraction efforts.  

Although there has been growing opposition to the project at the community level, FCTL had been able to host  a meeting to discuss their plans with the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Mon state Hluttaw, and Mon State lawmakers on March 8th, 2018.

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