Three Hydro-Power Plants Are Being Built in Arakan
May 12, 2005
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Though three power plants are being built by the Burmese military junta in Arakan State, western Burma, people of the state have little faith that these plants will be of much benefit to them them, said an Arakanese community leader from Akyab.
"Building power plants is very good for Arakan since its electricity infrastructure is very poor. However, these plants are being built where there are military bases. I don't believe these plants are aimed for the benefit of the people. These plants are for the benefit of the military forces and their families," he said.
One of the projects is in Ann Township where the regional military base, the Western Command Headquarter and at least five battalions and one brigade are based.
Ann Chaung Creek hydro-power plant will be 3.5 miles north-east of Ann, and have a capacity of 53 million kilowatt per hour each year after completion.
Another plant is also being built in Sandoway (Thandwe). Sandoway is a tourist with a well-known sea beach, Ngapali.
A local resident believes that this power plant is targeting the tourist sector, which is solely controlled by the military personnel and their families. She said that the benefit that ordinary people will receive from the plant will be minimal.
The Sandoway plant will generate 318 million kilowatts per hour each year.
A similar power project is also about to begin in the southern most township of Arakan State, Gwa, where another famous beach resort, Khaung Tha, is in proximity.
In 1989, the junta also attempted a well-publicized hydro-power project at the Sai Dunn Water Fall, in Butheedaung Township. This project claimed that the whole of Arakan would be lit with electric light. However, ! the project was withdrawn 3 years later without any explanation.
Sai Dunn Waterfall is the biggest waterfall in Arakan State, and Arakanese people popularly believe that it is the greatest source of hydro-power in the State. Every government, including the last democratically elected U Nu's, tried to woo the people with a promise of building a power plant at this location.
The junta has been using propaganda to talk up of overall development of the State, however only factitious infrastructures have been developed. With electricity available only two hours a day and three days a week even at the capital of the State, Akyab, the people of Arakan are longing for a reliable power supply.
People of Arakan are happy about the news of the power projects. However, they do not believe that they will really be benefiting from them, the community leader concluded.