Of­fi­cial speaks out against coal power

The Myanmar Times - - News - KYI KYI SWAY kyiky­isway@mm­times.com

IF the peo­ple say “no” to coal, so do we, say govern­ment of­fi­cials. In an in­ter­view with The Myan­mar Times this week, a deputy per­ma­nent sec­re­tary of the Elec­tric­ity and En­ergy Depart­ment has con­firmed that the govern­ment has no plans to pur­sue coal­based en­ergy.

“What­ever the last govern­ment may have done, we do not plan to im­ple­ment coal en­ergy. This govern­ment will do noth­ing that the peo­ple are op­posed to,” said the of­fi­cial, who asked that his name not be used.

A plan de­vised by the last govern­ment in­volved agree­ments with China to build 11 coal-fired elec­tric­ity plants, de­spite strong and wide­spread pub­lic protests.

How­ever, one of the coal-fired plants, Ti­gyit, has re­port­edly been con­duct­ing tests for a po­ten­tial re­sump­tion of op­er­a­tions after it was sus­pended two years ago due to res­i­dents’ com­plaints.

Ti­gyit was the first coal-fired power plant to be built in the coun­try, by Myanma Elec­tric Power En­ter­prise in 2001. Op­er­a­tions be­gan in 2005, un­der the man­age­ment of China Na­tional Heavy Ma­chin­ery Cor­po­ra­tion, with lo­cal com­pa­nies Eden Group and Shan Yoma Na­gar. Cur­rent up­grad­ing work is be­ing car­ried out by Wuxi Hua­gaung Elec­tric Power En­gi­neer­ing, also of China.

U Soe Soe Zaw, sec­re­tary of the Shan State govern­ment, told The Myan­mar Times last month that tests were be­ing con­ducted for re­view pur­poses only, and did not nec­es­sar­ily sig­nal a pend­ing restart.

China it­self is re­port­edly plan­ning to can­cel over a dozen coal-fired plants be­cause of air pol­lu­tion after Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties closed schools and of­fices in four ci­ties, with a to­tal pop­u­la­tion of about 50 mil­lion peo­ple, last year be­cause of air pol­lu­tion blamed on coal-burn­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Xin­hua, the can­celled projects “did not meet the qual­i­fy­ing con­di­tions”.

The coal plants pro­duced SPM (sus­pended par­tic­u­late mat­ter), a ma­jor cause of cancer above cer­tain con­cen­tra­tions.

Green­peace reported in Oc­to­ber that the can­cel­la­tions of al­to­gether 30 coal projects rep­re­sents a dra­matic shift away from coal in China.

China is the world’s largest emit­ter of green­house gases, but has pledged to curb its car­bon emis­sions at a rate set to peak in 2030.

Speak­ing on Oc­to­ber 28 at an en­vi­ron­men­tal con­fer­ence in Myiky­ina, Dr Khin Mg Nyo, who has taught at Yan­gon Univer­sity and af­fil­i­ated col­leges for 26 years, said, “Myan­mar doesn’t have to ac­cept other coun­tries’ rub­bish.”

Yan­gon now ex­pe­ri­ences se­ri­ous air pol­lu­tion be­cause of the high con­cen­tra­tion of in­dus­trial zones around the city and in­creas­ing num­bers of ve­hi­cles.

A UNICEF study of the ef­fects of air pol­lu­tion on chil­dren in Myan­mar and other de­vel­op­ing coun­tries fol­lowed a re­cent World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) data set that showed that Myan­mars an­nual me­dian con­cen­tra­tion of mi­cro­scopic pol­lu­tion par­ti­cles was 51, within an es­ti­mated range of 32 to 80. A con­cen­tra­tion of 70 or above is seen as ex­tremely un­safe. WHO num­bers showed that up­ward of 22,000 deaths per year in Myan­mar can be at­trib­uted to am­bi­ent air pol­lu­tion, the third-high­est per capita rate in the South­east Asia re­gion.

About 70pc of Myan­mar’s elec­tric­ity comes from hy­dropower. Very lit­tle comes from coal.

“Myan­mar can by­pass pol­lut­ing en­ergy and go straight to re­new­able op­tions,” said Christy Wil­liams, coun­try di­rec­tor of WWF Myan­mar, in a re­port re­leased on Novem­ber 1.

Photo: Staff

The Tig­gyit coal mine in south­ern Shan State last month be­gan “tests” in a move that has lo­cal res­i­dents fear­ing it will soon re­sume op­er­a­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.