Skip to main content

Burma’s largest coal mine and coal-fired power plant, located thirteen miles from Burma’s famous Inle Lake in Shan State, are polluting waterways, threatening the health of local populations, and displacing villages, according to a report released on 20 Jan.

The report, Poison Clouds by local Pa-Oh researchers, exposes how up to two thousand tons of lignite, the most polluting type of coal, are being extracted per day from a massive open cast mine at Tigyit village. The coal is burned at the nearby power plant which produces 100-150 tons of toxic fly ash daily.

Dump piles from the mine are now towering above the homes of 3,000 people, blocking streams and contaminating fields. Dust and emissions, including from poisonous waste scattered on local roadways, is seriously degrading air quality. To date 50% of the local population is suffering from skin rashes.

“Our skies and waters are turning black” said Khun Chankhe of the Pa-Oh Youth Organization. “What future is there for our children who are growing up in a toxic wasteland?”

Nearly 12,000 people living within a five mile radius of the project may be driven from their homes by pollution and expansion of the mine. Two nearby villages of Lai Khar and Taung Pola have already been forced to relocate and over 500 acres of farmlands confiscated.

Electricity produced at the Tigyit power plant is sent to another mining project run by Russian and Italian companies. This follows the trend in Burma’s energy sector of exploiting natural resources not for the development of the country’s people but for sale to the highest bidders.

“The government is using energy resources for its own profit and leaving us to deal with the pollution and destruction of our communities,” said Khun Chankhe. “This project should be stopped and its impacts properly assessed, especially to our treasured Inle Lake.”

The Tigyit Creek flows via the Balu Creek into Inle Lake, Burma’s second largest freshwater lake and a Heritage Site within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The Lake, one of Burma’s most popular tourist destinations, is famous for the distinctive rowing style of the ethnic Intha fishermen who wrap one leg around their boat’s oar.

Burma is currently building three other coal-fired power plants and planning an additional four plants, including a massive 4,000 Megawatt plant in the southern port town of Dawei.

The full report Poison Clouds can be viewed at

Prachatai English's Logo

Prachatai English is an independent, non-profit news outlet committed to covering underreported issues in Thailand, especially about democratization and human rights, despite pressure from the authorities. Your support will ensure that we stay a professional media source and be able to meet the challenges and deliver in-depth reporting.

• Simple steps to support Prachatai English

1. Bank transfer to account “โครงการหนังสือพิมพ์อินเทอร์เน็ต ประชาไท” or “Prachatai Online Newspaper” 091-0-21689-4, Krungthai Bank

2. Or, Transfer money via Paypal, to e-mail address: [email protected], please leave a comment on the transaction as “For Prachatai English”