Burma's largest coal project still poses a major health hazard, say residents

Burma's largest coal project still poses a major health hazard, say residents

People living in the southern Shan State village of Tigyit say that pollution from a nearby coal mine is seriously impacting their health.

Despite the suspension of operations at a coal-fired power plant in the area since August 2014, residents say that coal dust from the mine continues to cause serious respiratory problems. They also complain of strong odours and pollution of local waterways.

“The smell is so strong that it’s giving people headaches,” said Tigyit resident Khun Soe Maung.

“The area is pretty much covered in dust for a radius of about five miles and that’s what we are breathing every day now.”

Located just 25 kilometres from Burma’s famed Inle Lake, the massive project is a joint venture between the China National Heavy Machinery Corporation and two Burmese companies, the Eden Group and Shan Yoma Nagar Company.

The project includes both the country’s largest open-cast coal mine and its largest coal-fired power plant.

The mine produces up to 2,000 tonnes of coal a day. Tigyit resident Tun Khin told DVB that it operates every night from 9 pm until the following morning.

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According to a report compiled by the Pa-Oh Youth Organisation and the Shan Sapawa Environmental Organisation in 2011, the coal-fired power plant released more than 100 tonnes of toxic ash into the air every day when it was in operation.

DVB approached company officials for an interview but no one was available for comment.

Reporting by DVB

 

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