Residents of nearly 50 villages in Karenni State, which are outside the reach of the national grid, have the option of linking themselves to the country’s electrical network – but with a preliminary price-tag set at 10 million kyat (more than US$10,000) per village.
The regional government of eastern Burma’s Karenni State has announced that it will arrange the construction of transmission lines to the 47 villages in question, but said that the residents must collectively fund the expense of building the power lines and linking their outlying towns to the main grid via transformers.
Karenni State Minister of Electric Power Saw Huhu said, “We plan to bring electricity to 47 villages under this self-sponsorship scheme. Each village will have to contribute an initial payment of 10 million kyat, but that amount will not cover the full cost.”
He said that the villages in question will be responsible for the total bill which could exceed the 10 million kyat they have already contributed.
“One or two villages are yet to pay the bill and the deadline is past,” he said. “But we are putting them on the list and will start work [to install electricity] for their village once the payments are made.”
Htay Myint Oo, chief engineer at the Electricity Department in the Karenni town of Demoso – which is less than 40km from one of the longest rivers in Asia, the Salween – said the construction of the national grid is 90 percent complete.
Several residents in the outlying villages in Karenni, officially known as Kayah, have spoken out against the scheme.
“Each village has to pay 10 million kyat regardless of its size and the number of households,” said a Demoso villager named Shamya. “There are already power poles erected in our village but no electricity.”
According to recent data from the Mekong Energy and Ecology Network, 75 percent of the total area in Burma is not connected to the national power grid.