Dawei SEZ Fact Sheet Available

We have compiled information into a factsheet on the Dawei SEZ project. It can also be downloaded as a PDF document (including photos, 5MB) by clicking this link:  dawei_factsheet_eng_2016nov10

The text of the fact sheet (without photos) is below:
November 10, 2016
Fact Sheet
Project Name: Myanmar/BurmaDawei Special Economic Zone Development Project

Project Overview:

The Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Development Project is an enormous plan to build what could be among the largest industrial zones in the world if it goes according to plan. It is projected to become a hub of logistical activity in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), with a deep sea port to be built just beside the SEZ. Also with a road and railways built to link the deep sea port to the Myanmar-Thai border, connecting to roads and railways beyond, it is to create an alternative trade route replacing the traditional sea route that crosses the Malacca Straits.

The planned size of the SEZ is about 20,000 hectares, equivalent to 1/3 the size of Lake Geneva, and approximately 8.3 times the size of the already problem-ridden Thilawa SEZ on the outskirts of Yangon. Infrastructure related to the Dawei SEZ includes a deep sea port, roads, railways, reservoirs, power plants, and gas pipelines. These would replace villages, some of which are indigenous, as well as plantations, rice fields, rotational farming fields, rolling hills, rivers, beaches, mangrove forests, and ecosystems. These support not only people’s livelihoods, but include areas with endemic and endangered species. It is estimated that people from 20 to 36 villages would be affected, comprising approximately 4,384 to 7,807 households, or 22,000 to 43,000 people.[1] In addition, people living in urban and suburban areas of Dawei District, with a population of 493,576 (2014 Census) would be subjected to negative impacts from the operation of the petrochemical complex and other facilities. The number of affected people would possibly increase as repatriation of refugees (mainly ethnic Karen who fled to Thailand) is expected to start.

The project formally started in May 2008 when the Myanmar and Thai governments signed an agreement to build the Dawei SEZ. In 2010, a 60 year concession was granted to Italian-Thai Development Plc. (ITD), a Thai company. Work has been carried out in the name of Dawei Development Company Ltd., a joint venture company owned by ITD (75%) and Max Myanmar (25%). In July 2012, however, Max Myanmar withdrew its investment. After hitting financial difficulties, the project was stalled and in November 2013, concession rights were transferred to a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), jointly owned (50% each) by the Myanmar and Thai governments. The project resumed again, especially after the Japanese government officially joined the project in July 2015, signing a Memorandum of Intent (MoI)[2] with Myanmar and Thailand.

In December 2015, Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) signed an agreement to co-share in SPV. Japan joined this project at an early stage with the intention of creating opportunities for the Japanese business sector to participate in infrastructure projects. [3]

Work previously carried out by ITD and Max Myanmar has already led to many problems, such as forced eviction, intimidation by officials to gain consent for the project, meaningless consultations, and flawed compensation processes. Most of these problems remain unresolved. Local groups have been warning Japan that if it decides to join this project, then it must be accountable for the already existing environmental and social impacts and human rights violations. In addition, local people are voicing concerns and apprehension regarding further development.

Project Location:

– Coastal area in Dawei District, Thanintharyi Region, including Nabule Beach. The land size is approximately 200 square km (20,000ha), which is about the same as 1/3 of Lake Geneva, the second largest lake in central Europe.
– Located about 30km north of Dawei, the capital of Tanintharyi Region. It is about 600km from Yangon and around 350km west of Bangkok.

Project proponents:

  • Governments: Myanmar, Thailand, and Japan

Dawei SEZ Development Company (SPV) Established in June 2013 by Myanmar’s Foreign Economic Relations Department (FERD) and Thailand’s Neighboring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (NEDA). Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) joined on December 14, 2015. At present (Dec. 2015) all three own equal shares of around 33.33%, with an overall budget of no more than Bt100 million.[4]

Transition of Project Proponents:

2008-2013
Dawei Development Company Ltd., a joint venture company owned by ITD (75%) and Max Myanmar (25%). Concession rights were granted to ITD in 2010 and implementation of the project began. In July 2012, Max Myanmar withdrew its investment from Dawei Development Company and ITD became the sole developer.

2013.11
ITD lost concession rights. Concession rights were transferred to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), Dawei SEZ Development Company Ltd., jointly owned by Thailand and Myanmar governments (50% each).

2015.4
MIE (Myandawei Industrial Estate Company Ltd) was established as a joint venture between ITD and ROJANA.

2015.8
ITD, Rojana Industrial Park Public Company Ltd., and LNG Plus International Company Ltd. were granted concession agreements for the initial phase of the project.

2015.12
Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) joined Dawei SEZ Development Company Ltd..

 Main Project Components:

  • Transport (road/railway) of about 130km linking Dawei SEZ and Myanmar-Thai border, which connects to a road to Bangkok
  • Industrial estate with:
  • Heavy industries including steel mill and fertilizer plant
  • Petrochemical complex
  • Light industries
  • Logistics and transportation industries
  • Oil and gas industries
  • Coal fired power plant, hydropower
  • Deep seaport
  • Small port
  • LNG Terminal
  • Water reservoir(s)
  • Telecom landline
  • New township and commercial sectors
  • Resettlement villages for displaced populations

 

The project’s “Initial Phase” involves[5]:

  • 2-lane[6] road-link (Dawei SEZ to Myanmar-Thai border’s Thi Khi – Phu Nam Ron Checkpoint, about 130km)
  • Initial industrial zone of 27 square km[7]
  • Small port
  • LNG terminal
  • Small power plants (Gas-fired[8])
  • Small water reservoir (with water treatment plant[9])
  • Township plan for employees
  • Telecom landline

 

Problems from the past1,[10]

  1. Destruction of nature and living environments

E.g.: A vast area of mangrove forests was destroyed. An environment where fish could breed and grow also supported people’s livelihoods. It has been lost.

E.g.: A road-link to Thailand has scraped off mountain surfaces, inducing landslides. The road-link fragments paths use by people as well as corridors used by wild animals, including elephants.

  1. Enforced eviction

E.g.: The village of Char Kahn, close to the starting point of the road-link, was evicted. Three villagers who refused to move were imprisoned for a month and their houses were destroyed.

  1. Destruction of farmland and livelihood

E.g.: To make way for road construction, ITD destroyed houses in Yaw Dut Thar Village without any consultation with the villagers. The villages lost their main livelihood of salt making and were moved without any compensation. They now struggle as daily wage laborers.

E.g.: Waste from a quarry poured into about 195 acres of paddy fields in Paradut Village, making 43 farmers unable to cultivate. Although ITD made a small weir as a countermeasure, it cut off a stream which was supplying water to the paddy fields.

E.g.: A road constructed by ITD to transport rocks from the quarry has blocked streams, resulting in destruction of some paddy fields in Mayin Gyi Village. Villagers cannot grow paddy there anymore.

E.g.: To construct access roads for a road link, hillsides were scraped and soil was piled haphazardly beside the road and left there. Whenever these piles of soils slide down, plantations located below are damaged. There has been no compensation.

  1. Unclear and insufficient compensation

E.g.: Villagers between the 8 and 10km points of the road-link were threatened by ITD that they would get nothing if they did not agree with what was being offered by the company. Many felt they had no choice but to accept the offer.

  1. Life at relocation site very poor

E.g.: In the Bawar relocation area, there is neither electricity nor drinking water despite what was promised. Four households were relocated, but 3 of them sold the house they were provided, and now only 1 household lives there. The family’s father has been jobless since relocation, and the mother struggles to collect shells for gaining daily income.

  1. Improper EIA

E.g.: Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which was supposed to be implemented prior to project implementation, was conducted after the road construction was completed for the load-link access road. Proper assessment did not take place and impacts were not mitigated.

Remarks on Social Environmental Impacts and Human Rights Violations:

Responding to a complaint submitted by local and Thai NGOs, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT) reported their investigation results on November 23, 2015.[11] The report concluded that project implementation by ITD violated the human rights of Myanmar people. It also mentioned responsibilities of the Governments of Thailand and Myanmar, which backed the project in spite of these violations, as still being unresolved. The NHRCT expects that the project impacts will also continue into the future.

Local groups have alerted Japan that it must also take responsibility, since it is becoming involved with the knowledge that there are existing environmental and social impacts and human rights violations caused by the projects, which Myanmar and Thai governments and companies have failed to address.[12]

In March 2016, a new government lead by National League for Democracy (NLD) was formed. Those projects approved under former governments are under review.

[1] Dawei Development Association (DDA), September 2014, Voices from the Ground: Concerns Over the Dawei Special Economic Zone and Related Projects, p.5. http://www.ddamyanmar.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Voice-from-the-Ground-Engonline-1.pdf

[2] “Memorandum of Intent among the Government of Japan, the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand, on the Cooperation for the Development of Dawei SEZ Project” http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000088498.pdf

[3] JBIC, December 15, 2015, Press Release “Signing Shareholders Agreement for Equity Participation in Dawei SEZ Development Company Limited in Myanmar”

[4] ‘Japan allowed in Dawei SPV,’ The Nation, December 9, 2015.

[5] “Regional Integration through Dawei Development Project” presentation at the Mekong-Five Economic Forum as part of the 7th Mekong Japan Summit in Tokyo on July 3, 2015, by Mr. Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Deputy Minister of Transport and Secretary, General of the National Economic and Social Development Board of Thailand.

[6] According to ITD’s plan at present (July, 2016) 4-lane is planned.

[7] According to ITD’s plan map, the Initial 27 square km Industrial Zone is divided into Zones A, B, and C (7 square km each) and Zone D with 6 square km.

[8]  MIE website sited on July 8, 2016. http://www.daweiindustrialestate.com/page_a.php?cid=86&cname=Project Overview

[9] The project plan map (dated September 2015) by ITD indicates that a small water reservoir will be accompanied by a water treatment plant.

[10] Compiled by DDA and local villagers, March 2016, Summary of case studies on human rights violations in Dawei Special Economic Zone Area. http://www.mekongwatch.org/PDF/daweiHRviolation_case_study_ENG.pdf

[11] The National Human Rights Commission of Thailand (NHRCT), November 23, 2015, Report of the consideration No.1220/2558, Community rights: the case of Dawei Deep Seaport and Special Economic Zone Project in Myanmar which Thailand has signed the MoU to co-develop and it has violated the human rights of Dawei people (English translation).

[12]A letter from three local groups to the government of Japan, JICA, and JBIC, ”Re: Call attention to local groups’ concerns on Japan’s Involvement in the Problematic Dawei Special Economic Zone Project and Related Projects in Myanmar” http://www.mekongwatch.org/resource/news/20150810_01.html

Posted in Dawei SEZ, Southeast Burma Integrated Development, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[MW Statement] Premature JICA Decision Violates Environmental Guidelines

What will it take for JICA to learn from its past mistakes? The Thilawa Special Economic Zone is entering it’s next stage, but JICA is repeating many of the same mistakes it made during Phase 1. Local people affected by Phase 1 of the Thilawa SEZ were so concerned about the repercussions of being relocated that they filed an official complaint against JICA in June 2014. An examiner who investigated the complaints wrote a detailed report with many recommendations to JICA for measures that should be implemented to improve the project. JICA put together a team of experts to talk with relocated families to try to address the problems they were facing. JICA dedicated a lot of time, money and effort for this. Why are they now repeating such similar mistakes now in Zone B?

Mekong Watch issued a statement in October (original in Japanese), and the English translation is below:

October 24, 2016

[Statement] Myanmar’s Thilawa SEZ Zone B Phase 1

JICA Violates Environmental Guidelines with Premature Decision to Invest

Agreements on farmland expropriation still incomplete

On October 21st, upon revising the joint venture contract with Japanese and Myanmar enterprises and the Myanmar government, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) decided to provide overseas lending and investment[1] to develop Zone B’s Phase 1 (approx. 100 hectares) of the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (SEZ) development project being supported by both the Japanese public and private sectors.

Agreement has still not been obtained, however, from farmers who will lose their means of livelihood due to expropriation of farmland in Zone B Phase 1, and negotiations regarding compensation measures are still ongoing. We are expressing grave concern regarding JICA’s formal decision to invest at a time when there is still no final agreement with parties who are subject to compensation. This is a clear violation of JICA’s Guidelines for Environmental and Social Considerations (hereafter, the Guidelines), which state, “[i]nvoluntary resettlement and loss of means of livelihood are to be avoided when feasible by exploring all viable alternatives. When, after such an examination, avoidance is proved unfeasible, effective measures to minimize impact and to compensate for losses must be agreed upon with the people who will be affected.”

Even though this is an overseas investment and lending scheme where JICA supports private enterprises, the Guidelines should be applied in the same way as they are for yen loans and grant aid, and we cannot stand by and allow the Guidelines to be disregarded.

In regard to processes for resettlement and compensation agreements for Phase 1 of Zone B, we are seeing a repetition of the same problems (as of October 14) that we pointed out during resettlement and compensation processes for Zone A of the SEZ. These are listed below:

  • As stated in the Guidelines, project affected people must be able to “improve their standard of living, income opportunities, and production levels, or at least to restore these to pre-project levels.” To enable them to do so, it is crucial that sufficient time is provided prior to resettlement and loss of livelihood to implement livelihood restoration assistance, provide vocational training and begin job placement. At this point, however, there are still no concrete plans, or scenarios for livelihood restoration measures, including any indication of the timing for transitioning from current to alternative means of livelihood.
  • No mitigation measures have been considered to address reduction or loss in opportunities to use community land or natural resources (e.g. grazing, gathering).
  • Copies of the results of a 2013 survey to calculate compensation (a supplementary survey to the socio-economic survey) have not been distributed to the individual surveyed households.
  • Signatory households have not received copies of agreements they signed regarding resettlement or compensation.
  • In regard to cultivated vegetables and fruit trees, there has been no notification of the replacement cost (including concrete methods and grounds for calculation) for each type of fruit/vegetable (e.g. gourd, eggplant), even to those who are supposed to receive compensation.

In November 2013, sixty-eight households were relocated for development of Zone A. Citing deteriorating living conditions, residents filed a formal objection against  JICA in June 2014. After that, additional measures were implemented, including disbursement of a social welfare fund in 2015 (3 million kyat per household, approximately 2,223 USD). Even with these measures, six households had to sell their mortgaged homes at the relocation site because they were unable to pay off debt incurred while constructing the homes and faced difficulties making ends meet[2].  Currently, there are at least four households near their deadlines to pay back debt for which their homes are mortgaged. In this way, although approximately 3 years have passed since resettlement, there are still families at risk of losing their homes and facing other serious threats to their livelihood. It can be said that one of the reasons for this is due to the failure to smoothly provide some common lands and micro finance efforts etc. at the same time as disbursing the social welfare fund, but the most significant reason is the initial insufficient compensation and the late start of livelihood restoration support.

In news released by JICA on October 21st[3], “the exact date for the start of construction will be determined upon considering the condition of the Myanmar government’s process of land acquisition and resettlement.”  In regard to Zone B’s development, it is essential that JICA’s Guidelines are respected and implemented in order to prevent worsening of residents’ livelihoods.  Based on lessons learned from the resettlement and compensation processes of Zone A, the following measures should be strictly implemented:

  • Until residents who will be impacted by farmland expropriation have agreed to measures for effective compensation and livelihood restoration, and until land expropriation is actually complete, there should be no haste in commencing construction or any kind of land preparation for Zone B’s Phase 1. Also, appropriate information disclosure and participation processes should be ensured in the consultations with affected people and obtaining their informed consent (prior information disclosure or dissemination, transparent consultation etc.)
  • Construction, resettlement and farmland expropriation must not proceed without preparation of a resettlement site and preparation/implementation of livelihood restoration measures. To prevent deterioration of living standards of affected people, it is essential to begin support livelihood restoration, vocational training, and job placement prior to commencement of construction—i.e. ample time should be given before people are resettled and lose their means of livelihood.

To develop the remaining 2000 hectares of the planned Thilawa SEZ, including Zone B (700 hectares), there are 995 households (3,829 people) facing relocation[4]. As for Phase 1 of Zone B, considering that resettlement and compensation measures will be a litmus test for subsequent project implementation, the Japanese government and JICA should reconsider their hasty project promotion. They should guarantee appropriate and thorough consultation processes and measures to ensure that the living conditions of affected people do not deteriorate because of the project.

Mekong Watch
Tel: 03-3832-5034, Fax: 03-3832-5039
E-mail: info@mekongwatch.org

[1] This is an ODA scheme that provides investment and lending to private enterprises.

[2] Of the 68 households that were relocated with the development of Zone A, seven households have sold their mortgaged homes at the relocation site due to inability to repay debt in time. One household did so prior to the social welfare fund disbursement, and the remaining six did so between December 2015 and September 2016. At present, of these seven households, four families are renting places to live in the resettlement site. Two families are renting residences elsewhere. One family built a house just in front of the relocation site and is currently living there. (as of October 7, 2016)

[3] https://www.jica.go.jp/press/2016/20161021_01.html

[4] http://www.myanmarthilawa.gov.mm/resettlement-plan

Posted in Thilawa, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[Seminar] Investment to Myanmar and Environmental and Social Aspects “What should Japan do?: Reports from Local Residents Affected by the Thilawa SEZ”

Sep 27, 2016 (Tue) 18:30-20:30

Organized by: Mekong Watch

Cooperation by: Ayus, FoE Japan, Human Rights Now
Location: Global Environmental Outreach Centre (Tokyo)
(1st Floor of UN University, between Shibuya and Omotesando)
http://www.geoc.jp/english/contact/access/
Fee:  500 Yen (Students and Mekong Watch and cooperating organizations’ members are free)

More than 2 years have passed since residents affected by the Thilawa SEZ Development Project filed a complaint and request for investigation into JICA’s what they believed to be violations of JICA’s safeguard policies. Have there been any improvements? What are the current situation and problems? Any concerns? At the seminar, residents and local NGO staff will be reporting on recent developments.

The Japanese government and private sector are promoting the Thilawa SEZ Development Project together in Myanmar/Burma. It is a project to develop a special economic zone of around 2,400ha containing industrial and commercial areas. The project site is located about 23km from the Yangon City center. In November 2013, Phase 1 of the project was commenced by JICA with Myanmar-Japan joint ventures in which Japanese trading companies invested. In September 2015, some parts of SEZ were opened and this year, construction of some sections of Phase 2 is planned to start.

One aim of the project is promotion of economic development in Myanmar, but some 1,000 households are subject to relocation. In the Phase 1, already 68 households have been forced to resettle and they are facing difficulties due to loss of access to farmlands, grazing lands, rivers, etc. and those who are supposed to relocate in the future are anxious that they will face the same type of problems. In addition, the environmental assessment was finished even before residents were fully informed of what was being planned. Information disclosure and consultations with the affected residents are unfortunately still insufficient.

For this seminar, we have invited affected residents of the project and NGOs from Myanmar so that we can learn from them about the current living conditions and the issues around this project and think about what Japan should do for environmental and social aspects of development projects.

Seminar Program (subject to change):
1) Overview of the Thilawa SEZ Development Project
2) Report from local residents/NGOs
3) Background and Legal Aspects of Land Confiscation in Thilawa
4) Recommendations for Japanese Society
5) Q&A

*There will be consecutive interpretation for Japanese from Burmese.

To attend:
Register through Mekong Watch (in Japanese)
http://www.mekongwatch.org/events/lecture01/20160927.html
Or just show up!

Inquiries: <info@mekongwatch.org> (in Japanese or English)

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Thilawa Update

All residents from Phase 1 of the Thilawa SEZ Development project have been resettled, but in spite of the many unresolved problems, preparations are being made to relocate the next 2000-hectare area.

During Phase 1, residents were greatly dissatisfied with both the resettlement process and compensation. Two years since relocation, there is still insufficient clean water supply, some families have left the relocation site, and some families are still in debt.

Will lessons learned from the Phase 1 area resettlement process be reflected in Phase 2? From what we are seeing so far, it seems many of the mistakes may be repeated.

Full EIA scoping reports not available in Burmese:

In January this year, EIA scoping reports for each of 3 subsections of the 700 ha area were disclosed. Both the summaries and full reports were disclosed in English, but in Burmese language, only summaries were provided.

At a meeting of JICA’s advisory committee, JICA was asked why the full reports were not disclosed in Burmese. JICA responded that it was not required by Myanmar law, and because JICA’s Guidelines also do not say that a summary of the EIA Scoping report is insufficient, there is no violation of JICA’s Guidelines.

Considering that residents in Phase 1 suffered enough to be compelled to file an official complaint to JICA, Mekong Watch is very disappointed by this response. JICA is well aware that the residents cannot read nor speak in English.

Only one copy of the reports for each village:

Once copy was sent to each village administrative office and made available for reading, but no one was allowed to take the document out of the office. With only one copy for all residents in each village, this is a significant obstacle for public comment.

Discrepancies in Translation:

There were differences in the English and Burmese language summaries. It is unclear which is the original, but the content should be the same, regardless. This problem needs to be addressed.

Timing of report disclosure and public comment:

For the EIA scoping consultations, the Logistic, Residence and Commercial Area of Zone B report was disclosed on January 18, and the deadline for public comment was January 31st. This was in spite of the fact that only English versions of the full reports were provided.

JICA knows from its experience with Phase 1 that strict monitoring is necessary to ensure and enable affected residents to fully participate in decision-making regarding how their lives will be impacted by the Thilawa SEZ. If Phase 2 is to go smoothly than Phase 1, JICA will need to be much more diligent than it currently is.

 

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Our Villages Aren’t Built on Coal

At the end of last year, activists and people from villages in Myanmar where Japanese companies are poised to build coal-fired power plants came to Japan to speak about their concerns. They made it clear that they are against the implementation of these projects at a public seminar hosted by Japanese NGOs. Below is an English translation (with some minor editing) of the seminar report.

Seminar Report:

“Messages from Myanmar…our villages aren’t built on coal”

Date: Nov 27, 2015 18:00-20:30
Place: GEOC

Organizers: FoE Japan, Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), Mekong Watch, Kiko Network

Supporters: 350.org, A SEED Japan, Aryus Buddhist International Network, Fair Finance Guide Japan.

Program:

  1. “Japan-supported coal-fire power projects in other countries and Japan’s involvement in plans in Myanmar”
  2. Demands of Myanmar’s civil society to Japan
  3. Messages from local people from areas where Japanese companies are planning coal-fired power plants
    1. Mon State
    2. Ayeyarwady Region
    3. Tanintharyi Region


Content of Presentations

  1. “Coal-fired power plants in Asia supported by Japan, and Japanese involvement in electricity plans in Myanmar”
    (by Minari Tsuchikawa, Mekong Watch)

Tsuchikawa gave a comparative overview of support for coal-fired power generation by Japan and other countries. She also explained results of a survey that found that the quality of coal technology that Japan exports is of lower quality than the technology used in Japan, particularly in regard to technology to reduce air pollution (in areas of efficiency and concentration of pollutants). JBIC’s environmental guidelines require projects to meet local and World Bank standards and to refer to the best practices in developed countries like Japan. But so far, JBIC has failed to encourage the best practices or best available technology to be installed in coal plants abroad . This would happen in Myanmar as well, so damage to the environment and health hazards to local residents are a serious concern.

  1. Demands of Myanmar’s civil society to Japan: “Myanmar and Coal—Japan’s involvement and a message from Myanmar citizens”
    (by Thant Zin, Dawei Development Association)

Thant Zin explained the local situation and expressed dissent against construction of coal-fired power plants. There is some coal mining in Myanmar, but the quality is not very good. Coal currently accounts for only about 2% of Myanmar’s power generation, but the Myanmar government intends to increase coal mining. There is currently one coal-fired power plant in commission. Two have been stopped due to lack of coal. There are plans for 14 more, though the world is moving towards limiting investment in coal.

Candidate locations for power plants in Myanmar are often near the border areas to enable export of electricity to Thailand and other neighboring countries, but these areas are politically unstable. Current plans for coal-fire power plant construction are also for electricity export. As for electricity for domestic consumption, it is a mistake to promote an energy policy using large coal-fired power plants in a country like Myanmar that still does not have a power grid that can handle large-scale power generation. Several villages united in protest, and a demonstration in one village gathered and unprecedented 6,000 people.

Thant Zin pointed out that development in Myanmar is not being implemented in line with JICA and JBIC guidelines/safeguard policies. Promote power plant construction for political reasons will not lead to positive results for local people. To alleviate climate change, it is important to go in the direction desired by local people and look beyond short-term investment. People with long term vision need to work together for the good of everyone.

  1. Messages to Japan from people from various locations where Japanese companies are planning to build coal-fired power plants.

i) Mon State (by Ni Mar Oo, Ann Din Youth)

Ni Mar Oo came to Japan to explain the negative impacts of TTCL’s promotion of coal-fired power generation on local people and how local people are against the construction. The main livelihood of people there is betel palm production, and there are many people who make their livelihood on farming and fishing. Some laborers from outside the village also come to Ann Din to work. Local people are concerned that the coal-fired power plant will destroy their traditional ways of life. Local people are currently satisfied with their current lifestyle and do not want nor need coal-fired power generation.

TTCL is promoting the project in a way that ignores the rights of villagers (e.g. disclosing information only in English that villagers cannot understand; coercing signatures, propaganda promoting coal-fired power generation, holding an information public hearing 14 miles away from Ann Din village, etc). TTCL and the Myanmar government signed an MOA without local people’s knowledge. Though the power plant is to be constructed just one mile from the village, the village will not be supplied with electricity from it. Villagers are strongly opposed to it.

A letter was prepared to submit to relevant parties, and Ni Mar Oo and her colleagues had hoped to meet Toyo Engineering while in Japan, as Toyo Engineering is TTCL’s largest shareholder. Their request for a meeting was refused, so they submitted the letter to the company’s receptionist.

ii) Ayeyarwady Region (by Moe Kyaw Thu, Beautiful Beach Development Network (BBDN))

Ayeyarwady Region is a long and narrow area of land between the Bay of Bengal and the Arakan Mountains, where it is difficult to secure enough drinking water (especially in March and April during the dry season). The main industries are agriculture and fishing. Rice and groundnuts are grown (after harvesting rice, groundnuts are planted). Jobs do not depend on electricity production, and people live sufficiently with 4 hours of electricity a day.

The Myanmar government plans to provide electricity to this area in 2016, but people are worried that the natural environment will be destroyed. There are still areas with forests from long ago, and coal reefs line the coast. It is a beautiful area and is known as Southeast Asia’s longest coastal resort area, so it is also being considered for eco-tourism. To protect this beautiful environment, local people are protesting the coal-fired power plant.

8,684 signatures were collected for a petition protesting the coal-fired power plant and submitted it to the Myanmar government, Mitsubishi’s Yangon office, and Mitsubishi’s headquarters.

The Myanmar government and Ayeyarwady Regional government says it will not proceed without the agreement of the people, but people are still worried that construction will start against their will. Ni Mar Oo explained that the coal-fired power plant plans are proceeding according to the will of large corporations, and against the wishes of local people.

iii) Tanintharyi Region (by San Ngwe, Southern Youth)

San Ngwe came to Japan to convey concerns about Marubeni’s coal-fired power plant plans. In October 2014, Marubeni and the Myanmar Government signed an MOU, but residents did not know about this.

In the region, local khan zaw oil (baccaurea sapida ) trees have been grown and harvested. It is a special area in Tanintharyi Region. It is a politically unstable area, as there are two governments (Myanmar government and the Karen National Union government). Currently there is a ceasefire agreement, but there are still disagreements between the two governments and fighting between the Myanmar Government and Karen National Union could resume at any time. Land ownership is ambiguous, making land confiscation a particular concern. To construct a power plant in an area like this has very large risks, and people want Marubeni to know this and to cancel their construction plan.

Q&A

Q: What is the current situation of each plan?
A: (separate responses from each speaker)
– The MOA has been signed for the power plant in Mon State, but construction has not started yet. When TTCL representatives came to the village, villagers chased them out, and nothing has happened since then. But we are still worried.
– In Nga Yoke Kaung, the MOU has not been signed yet.
– In Tharabwin, the MOU was signed in October 2014, but residents did not know about it until March 2015. Since then, they have been protesting. I don’t think that construction can start in this situation.

Q: You mentioned ambiguous land rights. What kinds of problems are there?
A: According to Myanmar law, land, air, and water are owned by the State, but different people have different ideas on what comprises the “State.” The central government says that “State” means “central government,” but residents say that “State” includes its citizens. Also, if you look at a Myanmar map, there are differences in maps made by the central government and maps made by the Karen National Union (KNU). So even looking at maps, areas included in the “State” are different. In areas of overlapping jurisdiction, residents must register their land usage under both the Myanmar government and the KNU. This makes ownership ambiguous even on paper, so if land is confiscated in such an area, confusion will arise. We want Japanese companies and other parties involved to understand this. Japanese companies only talk to the central government, but we want them to listen to the local residents too.

Q: What is the condition of damage in the marine environment due to climate change?
A: I believe that Myanmar is one of the countries easily impacted by climate change. We have had massive flooding throughout the country this year, and this may be due to climate change. The government has promised not to deforest any more, but classification of forests is difficult. Some areas have mixed natural forest and plantation forests. The government says they will not deforest any more, but it cannot be trusted.

The original report was posted in Japanese on sekitan.jp’s website. Click here or use the link below to see the original report.
http://sekitan.jp/jbic/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/20151127_%E3%83%9F%E3%83%A3%E3%83%B3%E3%83%9E%E3%83%BC%E3%82%BB%E3%83%9F%E3%83%8A%E3%83%BC%E3%83%A1%E3%83%A2.pdf

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[Seminar] Outdated Coal for a New Myanmar?! Coal is not our Future.

We Can’t Build our Future on Coal-Fired Power Plants
-A Message from Myanmar/Burma’s Villages to the People of Japan-

Nov 27, 2015 (Fri) 18:00-20:30
Organized by: Mekong Watch, JACSES, FOE Japan, Kiko Network
Location: Global Environmental Outreach Centre (Tokyo)
(1st Floor of UN University, between Shibuya and Omotesando)
http://www.geoc.jp/english/contact/access/

Local people from communities in Myanmar/Burma where coal-fired power plants are being planned are coming to Japan. They want people in Japan to know that they do not want coal-fired power plants. Why are they coming here? Because in spite of the international movement away from coal, the communities are worried that the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) will support Japanese companies who want to construct such plants in several locations.

The people of Myanmar have made it clear with the recent elections that they want a new government–one that will listen to their voices. At this exciting time of opportunity to develop a political and economic system that has the long-term interests of its people at its foundation, we hope that the Japanese government and JBIC will set an example and listen, and listen very carefully.

The communities are raising their voices loud and clear. Last May, thousands protested plans to build a coal-fired power plant in Mon State (see 6,000 residents of Mon State say “No!”)

At this seminar, villagers from several locations will come to speak on how they feel about Japanese companies’ plans to build coal-fired power plants in their communities. Local activists will also accompany them and provide the most current information on the situation of energy and coal-fired energy in Myanmar. It will also be a good opportunity to examine Japan’s aid policy at this critical time.

Seminar Program (subject to change):
1) Japan’s involvement in coal-fired power plants abroad and in Myanmar (in Japanese)
2) Presentations by Burmese activists: “No Coal! Myanmar’s Energy Sector and the potential for local renewable energy production (in Burmese with Japanese interpretation. English translation can be provided if necessary.)
3) Testimonies/Messages from villagers of three project sites (Tanintharyi and Ayeyarwady Regions and Mon State).

To attend:
Register through FoE Japan (in Japanese)
http://www.foejapan.org/aid/doc/evt_151127.html
Or just show up!

Inquiries: <info@mekongwatch.org> (in English OK)

holding no coal signs

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Dawei: Lost in Development (video)

For a 17-minute introduction to the difficulties being faced by people living around the Dawei SEZ Development Project, see the video below (with Japanese subtitles).

It includes interviews with villagers who lost jobs, land, or homes.

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