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Coal plant stirs unease in southern Burma

A near-complete coal-fired power plant in a town in southernmost Burma is unnerving locals, while residents of nearby Ranong in Thailand have also expressed concern about pollution from the development.

The eight megawatt plant is being built in Kawthaung town in Tennasserim division and is close to completion.

Spurred on by the Burmese government’s decision to cancel a massive 4,000 MW coal plant further north in Tavoy, locals there have protested the project, which is set to become operational within two months.

Toe Toe, a resident of Shwepyithar ward, located around 50 metres from the plant, said that government officials held a public meeting last week but were cagey about answering questions on any possible side-effects of the project.

He also claims the officials refused to answer questions on whether the plant had received approval from the government.

Rumours are circulating Kawthaung that the plant was relocated from Thailand’s Prachuap Khiri Khan after protests several years ago forced the project to be aborted. “Townspeople here know that it was then moved and installed here so they are growing anxious about it,” said another Kawthaung resident.

A report in Thai newspaper The Nation said that residents of Ranong, which lies close to the Thai border opposite Kawthaung, had grown increasingly anxious about coal dust drifting into their airspace.

The newspaper quotes Ranong public health official Dr Thongchai Kiratihattayakorn, who feared coal dust could spread over several kilometres.


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