Almost two decades ago, Myanmar’s largest coal-fired power plant was built as a joint venture by a group of military-affiliated businessmen and the China National Heavy Machinery Corporation. Since then, it has disrupted the socioeconomic lives of the Pa’O and Taungyo people who are Indigenous to the area, as well as Shan and Bamar people, who have joined them in protests against the operation of the plant.
For many, the undertaking symbolizes the way business is done by Myanmar’s generals. Over the years, the inhabitants of the area have reported health problems as well as the loss of underground water sources, and cases of land collapse and damage to housing. As a result of the political turmoil that continues in Myanmar following the military power grab of Feb. 1 this year, people have reported illegal mining on their land in the absence of law enforcement.
The construction of the Tigyit power plant and the adjacent coal mine in Pinlaung township in southern Shan state, on the orders of Senior General Than Shwe, has meant the loss of farmland and community forests for the communities.