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Inn Din (Andin) Coal power plant cancelled following protests, Mon State, Myanmar


Description:

Myanmar’s plans to increase electricity production through coal-fired power plants face strong public opposition. The case of the proposed 1,280 MW Inn Din (Andin) coal-power plant shows how a strong coalition of residents, monks, grassroots groups and civil society organizations succeeded to halt the expansion of dirty electricity .

Plans for the coal power plant were first formalized when a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the former Burma government and the company in 2012. The site for the plant was chosen in April 2014 just two kilometres away from Inn Din Village in Mon State, Myanmar. A Memorandum of Agreement followed, signed on April 9, 2015, by Toyo-Thai Public Co. Ltd (TTPCL) and the Ministry of Electric Power’s Department of Hydropower Planning. According to news articles, most of the produced electricity was planned to be sent to other areas. While the villagers of Inn Din would receive some of the electricity, they would have to carry most of the ecological burdens, residents and civil society groups complained [1,2,3].

Villagers have been living in the area for generations and feared the project would cause strong adverse impacts on their health and farming and fishing-based livelihoods. “We don’t want this project. We earn enough money from farming to feed our families and send our children to university,” told a villager to The Irrawaddy [2]. Residents conducted their own economic survey [1], claiming the area earned about 5.8 million USD per year from farming and fishing [4]. While the produced electricity would be “cheap”, the opponents denounced that the project calculations did not account for the resulting losses in fish production [2]. 

The region shows a unique biodiversity. A study conducted by Thai-based civil society group TERRA - who supported the villagers in their struggle against the project – identified many rare species depending on the unique ecosystem, including 26 plant species, 71 bird species, 138 fish species, 15 prawn species, and 7 crab species [2]. Fears were voiced that pollution from the construction and operation of the coal power plant would substantially alter the biodiverse environment on which villagers’ livelihoods depend [2]. Residents and opposition leaders also criticized the lack of transparency regarding consultation, project development and the impacts it would have [5,6].

Moreover, fears over social and cultural changes emerged when the company announced that thousands of foreign worker and technicians would come to construct the project [2]. Tensions already arose when feasibility studies for a pontoon bridge were conducted in 2015 by foreign technicians [2]. Several confrontations between company staff and the villagers followed. When in June 2015, 26 local opponents were arrested by the police over complaints of harassment, 350 more from Inn Din and neighbouring villages showed strong solidarity and drove to the police station to offer to be arrested too [6].

Mobilizations against the project, called by locals a “silent killer” [2], used a wide array of protest forms and involved many different actors. Monks, residents, political parties and local, national and international civil society organizations joined efforts to oppose the project. Offers by the company to improve the main village road were rejected by residents, who instead preferred to pay it with their own money [2]. Over the course of the conflict petitions against the project were sent to several high ranking governmental agencies, such as the Myanmar Investment Commissions, the Minister of Electric Power, the Mon State government, as well as the Myanmar Human Rights Commission, and Japanese agencies JICA and JBIC supporting coal projects at the national level [4,7]. 

Following several discussions and meetings between the different stakeholders, the Mon State parliament instructed the company to temporarily suspend the project’s feasibility study on Sept 5, 2014 [2]. On May 5, 2015, more than 5,000 villagers from seven villages rallied against the contentious project [2]. Local political parties and civil society groups joined the demonstrations [5]. Press conferences and campaigns against the project followed [7,8]. In November 2015, representatives from Inn Din and other communities in Myanmar where coal plants were proposed travelled to Japan to submit a letter to JICA and JBIC urging them to withdraw their support for coal power plants in Myanmar. The request letters were supported by 72 civil society organisations [9].

The coal power plant was finally suspended in January 2016 because of the large public opposition it provoked [2,7,8]. The deputy minister for electric power said the project and all ongoing impact studies would be postponed and could only start if the locals would agree on it [2], which they have not. According to The Irrawaddy, the company announced to their shareholders that the project was suspended in the 2017 annual report [2]. Following the suspension of the Inn Din project, the same company then attempted to construct a similar coal power plant in Hpa-An village in Karen state. However, also there, social mobilizations emerged that were so strong that the Minister of Electricity and Energy announced that no permission would be granted. The Hpa-An power plant was cancelled too [10]. 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Inn Din (Andin) Coal power plant cancelled following protests, Mon State, Myanmar
Country:Myanmar
State or province:Mon State
Location of conflict:Inn Din village (also spelled Andin), Ye Township
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Thermal power plants
Specific commodities:Land
Electricity
Coal

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The power plant, developed by the Toyo-Thai Public Co. Ltd, was initially planned to be located next to the Thilawa Special Economic Zone. The company failed, however, to secure the project site from the Yangon government [2]. Subsequently, the site in Inn Din village was chosen [7].

The agreement with the government included the construction of two units of 640 MW coal fired power plant that would be operated for 30 years [3,4,7].

An area of 500 acres was earmarked for the power plant, located just two kilometres away from Inn Din village [2].

The construction of the proposed 1,280 MW power plant had an estimated cost of 2.8 billion USD [2,3,7].

The company also proposed building a pontoon bridge that would be 3 to 5 km long and would stretch into the Andaman Sea [2].

According to the Huffington Post, the proposal included also the construction of a large deep-sea port to bring in coal from Indonesia and Australia [6].

Inn Din has a population of about 2,800 people [2].

Project area:202.3
Level of Investment:2,800,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:several thousands
Start of the conflict:2014
End of the conflict:2017
Company names or state enterprises:Toyo-Thai Public Co. Ltd (TTPCL) (TTPCL) from Thailand - project developer
Relevant government actors:Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC)
Minister of Electricity and Energy
Department of Hydropower Planning [f]
Mon State Parliament,
and others
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Local groups such as Andin Youth Network,
Human Rights Foundation of Mon Land, http://rehmonnya.org/
Mon Youth Forum, https://www.facebook.com/MonYouthForum/
Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (MATA), http://www.mata-nrg.org/
Toward Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA), (Thailand), http://www.terraper.org/web/en
and others

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Mon ethnic groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Objections to the EIA study process (before the EIA was completed)

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures

Outcome

Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The project was stopped not only in Inn Din village but also in Hpa An village where the company attempted to implement the project after it was cancelled in Inn Din.

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

2012 Environmental Conservation Law
http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs15/2012-environmental_conservation_law-PH_law-09-2012-en.pdf

2012 Foreign Investment Law
http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs15/Foreign_Investment_Law-21-2012-en.pdf

2014 Myanmar Electricity Law
http://www.myanmar-law-library.org/law-library/laws-and-regulations/laws/myanmar-laws-1988-until-now/union-solidarity-and-development-party-laws-2012-2016/myanmar-laws-2014/pyidaungsu-hluttaw-law-44-2014-the-electricity-law-burmese.html

2015 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedure
http://www.myanmar-responsiblebusiness.org/resources/environmental-impact-assessment-procedures.html

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Parlain Community Study (2015). "Abundance of Parlain Natural Resources and Communities" Parlain Study by its community June 2015 (accessed online 25.06.2018)
http://www.rehmonnya.org/upload/2015Sep4_ParlainReport_EN.pdf

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] The Irrawaddy, 9 May 2017 "A Community Lives in Fear of Coal" (accessed online 04.06.2018).
https://www.irrawaddy.com/features/a-community-lives-in-fear-of-coal.html

[4] The Irrawaddy, 5 May 2015 "Mass Protest Held Against Mon State Coal Plant Proposal" (accessed online 04.06.2018).
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/mass-protest-held-against-mon-state-coal-plant-proposal.html

[6] The Huffington Post Blog, 06 December 2017 "Myanmar Villagers Stand United Against Coal Plant" (accessed online 04.06.2018).
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/nicole-ghio/myanmar-villagers-stand-u_b_7821096.html?guccounter=1

[8] The Irrawaddy, 10 March 2016 "Mon Groups Demand Toyo-Thai Coal Plant Suspension" (accessed online 04.06.2018).
https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/mon-groups-demand-toyo-thai-coal-plant-suspension.html

[9] BNI Multimedia group, Mon News Agency, 08 December 2015 "Japan Banks Urged to Stop Supporting Coal-Fired Power Stations" (accessed online 04.06.2018).
https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/mon-state/item/1293-japan-banks-urged-to-stop-supporting-coal-fired-power-stations.html

[3] Myanmar Business Today, 1 Feb 2016, Vol 4 Issue 5 "$2.8-b Mon Coal-fired Power Plant Suspended" (accessed online 04.06.2018).
https://www.mmbiztoday.com/articles/28-b-mon-coal-fired-power-plant-suspended

[5] Myanmar Times, 06 May 2015 "No coal, no Toyo-Thai’: Mon villagers rally against plant" (accessed online 04.06.2018).
https://www.mmtimes.com/national-news/14307-no-coal-no-toyo-thai-mon-villagers-rally-against-plant.html

[7] Sourcewatch.org on the Inn Dinn power station. (accessed online 04.06.2018).
https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Inn_Din_power_station

[10] Statement on Myanmar Official Says Hpa-An Coal Plant Cancelled, signed by 131 civil society organizations on 4 April 2018 (accessed online 04.06.2018).
https://earthrights.org/wp-content/uploads/180404_PR-HpaAn-Closure_English.pdf

Other documents

Protests against the coal power plant Source: https://www.mmbiztoday.com/articles/28-b-mon-coal-fired-power-plant-suspended
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/c_protests.jpg

'No coal' protests Source and Credit: The Irrawaddy, https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/mass-protest-held-against-mon-state-coal-plant-proposal.html
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/h_protests_Irrawaddy_.png

5000 villagers rally against the coal power plant Source and Credit: https://www.irrawaddy.com/features/a-community-lives-in-fear-of-coal.html
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/a_5000_protest_irrawaddy.png

Request letter delivered to JICA and JBIC Source and Credit: https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/mon-state/item/1293-japan-banks-urged-to-stop-supporting-coal-fired-power-stations.html
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/g_japan_request_letters.jpg

Meta information

Contributor:EJatlas Southeast Asia Team (ejatlas.asia"at"gmail.com)
Last update28/06/2018

Images

 

Protests against the coal power plant

Source: https://www.mmbiztoday.com/articles/28-b-mon-coal-fired-power-plant-suspended

'No coal' protests

Source and Credit: The Irrawaddy, https://www.irrawaddy.com/news/burma/mass-protest-held-against-mon-state-coal-plant-proposal.html

Request letter delivered to JICA and JBIC

Source and Credit: https://www.bnionline.net/en/news/mon-state/item/1293-japan-banks-urged-to-stop-supporting-coal-fired-power-stations.html

5000 villagers rally against the coal power plant

Source and Credit: https://www.irrawaddy.com/features/a-community-lives-in-fear-of-coal.html