Thai local leaders meet to call for ban on construction of cross-border road project

Construction News Myanmar



Thai local leaders meet to call for ban on construction of cross-border road project

Thai locally elected officials in Chiangrai’s Mae Chan and Mae Fa Luang districts held a meeting to demand ban on construction of a joint road project agreed between Thai firm and the Burma Army last weekend, according to local reports.


On 17 July, Dr.Wanchai Sirichana Deputy Professor of Mae Fa Luang University and Pinij Harnpanich, Deputy Governor of Chiangrai together with over 50 other local authorities and representative met at Mae Fa Luang University to call for a ban on constructing a new joint road project of Saraburi Coal Mining, a subsidiary of Ital-Thai that had been granted 30 years concession by Burmese authorities to extract coal from Shan State East’s Mongkok sub-township, Monghsat township, 70km north of Chiangrai border at the end of 2008.

In exchange for the coal concession, the Burma Army had made a condition the company must construct a new route across the border despite the existence of a shorter 100 km route inside Burma’s Tachilek to Thailand’s Maesai. The road is proposed to be built across Maejok on the Burmese side of the border to Thailand’s Hmong Kaolang village, Mae Fa Laung district. It will be around 60 km inside Burma and at least 90 km inside Thailand until it connects with the national highway at Pasang, the company said.

The proposed area is operated by the anti-Naypyitaw Shan State Army (SSA) ‘South’ and the United Wa State Army (UWSA).

Regarding the coal shipments into Thai soil, the meeting participants expressed their concerns that it could affect local village life along the proposed route, endanger the environment and their security. “We are concerned about the emission of dust from the coal that would affect villagers’ health and our environment,” said Somphong Khemawong of Therd Thai village tract.

In addition, the road project could also promote drug trafficking and damage public roads as well, according to him. “Therefore we would urge the company to use other routes,” he said.

Villagers of Ban Therd Thai held a demonstration against the proposed road project in July, last year.

The proposed road would be able to transport between 2,000-5,000 tons of coal per day. The deposit in Mongkok boast at least 150 million tons of raw coal, one third found to be Grade A. It would take 40 years long to deplete the fields even with 270 ten wheelers working each day to transport, according to an official from the company.

The company is planning to ship coal from the Mongkok mine to the city of Saraburi in central Thailand where it will be used as fuel in cement factories, according to Courier Information Services (CIS) report.

But it appears that not all of the coal mined by Saraburi at Mongkok will be transferred to Thailand as it is expected to be also used for a planned steam-driven generating plant, the report said.

“In November 2008, delegates at an ADB (Asian Development Bank) -sponsored seminar on electric power connectivity plans in the Mekong sub-region was treated to a slide-show presentation by their Myanmar counterparts that pin-pointed a steam-driven generating plant also to be built at Mongkok. The station was projected to have a generating capacity of 270 megawatts.  Depending on the heating quality of the coal used, a thermal plant of this size could use between 1.5 and 1.8 million tons of coal a year if operated a full capacity,” according to the report.

The company was said to have already operated a coal mine near Mawtaung in Tenasserim division in Burma and has another concession to develop a 600-MW hydropower plant along the Tenasserim River in the same region, which is close to border at the steel-mining city of Prachuab Khirikhan in southern Thailand, said CIS reports.

22 July 2010

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