Allowing the Tigyit coal-fired power plant in southern Shan State’s Panglaung Township to continue operation would be illegal under the current circumstances, according to investigators who have looked into its practices.
Locals have complained of pollution of the land, air and water caused by the plant in Taunggyi District, and has been widely protested. It also has not yet conducted an approved environmental impact assessment, according to the Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (MATA), and lawmakers are calling for a review of the government-granted permission to extend the plant’s operations from 2019 until 2022.
“Allowing this power plant to launch testing of its operations means that the government isn’t following guidelines and isn’t prepared to launch it under the law,” Aung Kyaw Moe, a member of MATA, told SHAN.
In the May 19 Lower House parliamentary session, Khin Maung Win, deputy Union Minister of Electricity and Energy, defended the plant as operating in line with the law.
Mong Hsu Township parliamentarian Sai Tun Aye asked about the power plant’s adherence to guidelines regarding waste management and pointed to its negative impact on the area’s ecosystem.
“The government has extended permission to operate this power plant for another three years. Does the government have any plan to review the extension?” he asked.
Deputy minister of electricity and energy Khin Maung Win said that the Tigyit coal-fired power plant had benefited the country because of its ability to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity.
MATA released a statement in response, condemning Khin Maung Win’s parliamentary comments and accusing the government of ignoring of the existing laws and regulations on the matter. It cited wastewater and ashes from the plant as degrading air and water, and thereby impacting the health and livelihoods of locals in the area—consequences which it said that the government is allowing to continue.
The plant continues to operate because of the money it generates, MATA’s Aung Kyaw Moe said. Tigyit is run by the Chinese company Wuxi Huaguang Electric Power Engineering.
“The government’s permitted investment companies are making profits from this power plant,” he told SHAN.
Locals have opposed the power plant on multiple occasions.
“The odor coming out from the plant is really bad. We have had to breathe the polluted air for so many years. Now we are facing health problems,” a Panglaung resident said.
Pinlaung locals have said that miscarriages and birth defects have become more common since the plant began operating.