The start of 2012 has brought an unwelcome rise in living costs, particularly short-term accommodation, residents and real estate industry sources in Yangon say. The rise seems to have been prompted by the government’s decision to raise electricity and petrol prices from January 1. No official figures have been released to confirm the cost of living increase, however. “Landlords in Yangon are charging up to 30pc more for people staying at hostels, mostly because of the 30pc rise in electricity charges,” said Ma Aye Aye Win, a resident of a boarding house in the Hledan area of Kamaryut township. “Starting from January we have to pay K20,000 each for a small space measuring 6 feet by 10 feet. It used to be only K15,000,” Ma Aye Aye Win said. “I get only K80,000 a month working at a tailor shop so I’m spending about 25pc of my income on accommodation.” The government also raised water supply and garbage collection charges, as well as train fares, from the start of 2011, according to local media reports. “We will have to pay more for our electricity, water supply and garbage collection bills to the Yangon City Development Committee so we have to raise the hostel charges to cover the rising costs,” said U Win Naing, a landlord in Hledan. Soon after the changes were announced, some landlords in Yangon also started raising rents on apartments, said U Zaw Zaw from Unity Real Estate. He said this was unfair because, unlike at hostels, tenants pay the electricity, water and garbage collection fees. “Some owners are asking an extra 20-30pc because they think that as service costs [such as electricity and water] have risen then commodity prices will soon follow. They say they are trying to cover themselves for a rise in inflation and general living costs,” U Zaw Zaw said. The increase in living costs was most likely to affect migrant workers, said U Aung Myint, who runs a language school in Tarmwe township. “So many young people from other parts of the country come to Yangon in the hope of finding a way to go abroad and work.”
Juliet Shwe Gaung, Myanmar Times, 26/12/11. Edited and condensed. http://mmtimes.com/2011/business/607/biz3160701.html
The state-run Kyemon (Mirror) printed a short article on December 21 clarifying that per-unit electric power prices for households would increase to K35, while businesses would pay K75, a rise of 50pc. Residences leased by foreigners would also see charges increase by 50pc, from US$0.08 a unit to $0.12. A spokes-person for United Wood, a furniture company based in the Hlaing Tharyar Industrial Zone, said the cost of the charge increase would be borne by the company. “We have already signed contracts with foreign buyers so we are not in a position to increase our prices,” he said, adding that the company would try to reduce its electricity consumption instead. He said that United Wood’s monthly electricity bill averaged about K2.5 million, with another K1 million required to run the company’s diesel-powered generator. A spokesperson for U Kyu wheat factory in Shwe Pyi Thar Industrial Zone said the company relied on government-supplied electricity for two-thirds of its power needs, with diesel generators supplying the rest. “Our monthly electricity bill is about K20 million,” the spokesperson said, adding that the company would only increase its prices if it thought the market could handle it. U Aye Lwin, chairman of Dagon Seikkan Industrial Zone, said he had not received any official notice from the government that electricity charges would be hiked and was yet to organise a meeting with factory managers to discuss the issue.
NLM, 28/12/11. Edited and condensed. http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs12/NLM2011-12-28.pdf
Yangon City Electricity Supply Board (YESB) will carry out electric meter readings for the month of December in Yangon Region townships between the 1st and the 6th of January 2012. Starting 1 January 2012, electricity prices will be increased to K 35 per unit from K 25; and K 75 per unit from K 50 and to US$ 0.12 from US$ 0.08 respectively. Readings will be conducted by township staff together with over 200 from YESB. Departmental officials will supervise the process and the respective General Administration Depts of the townships will also provide any necessary assistance required. The general public is requested to cooperate with the staff to enable the operation to be carried out smoothly.
STAKE-DRIVING FOR INDUSTRIAL ZONE NEAR HPA-AN
http://mmtimes.com/2011/business/605/biz3160501.html A foundation-laying ceremony for a new industrial zone was held in the hills outside Hpa-an in Kayin State on 07/12/11. Speaking at the opening U Zaw Min, Chief Minister for Kayin State, said the zone was close to the city and near the airport, the Thanlwin River and the general vicinity of the East-West Economic Corridor road that links Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh and India. “This industrial zone will not only be connected to East and Southeast Asia but South Asia as well,” he said. He encouraged potential investors to have a look at the zone, adding that unlike Thailand’s massive industrial estates it was not prone to flooding. The zone is 7 miles (11.2 kilometres) outside Hpa-an and close to the recently reopened Myawaddy-Mae Sot border trading area with Thailand.
Zaw Min said the plan for the zone called for it to be split into four sections covering more than 973 acres. Zone-1 with 59 plots covering 177 acres was designated for foreign investment. Zone-2 with 191 plots covering 585 acres was intended for Myanmar businesses. Zone-3 was set aside for Kayin State entrepreneurs and covers 112 acres. Zone-4 was a special area for people from Myaing Gyi Ngu area, in Kayin State. It was expected to have 324 plots on 99 acres.
Representatives of a consortium of about 20 companies called Myanmar Southern Development also attended the brick-laying ceremony. Myanmar Southern Development and Thein Linn Myaing Co will cooperate to build a golf course and hotel in the region, as well as a garment factory, soft drink factory and more, said the company’s chairman, U Thant Zin Tun. A Myanmar Southern Development spokesperson said the company would invest about US$50 million in its factories, which will be housed in zone two.
Additional references See below: ‘Hydropower planned for border industrial zones’ (MT: 31/05/04)
NLM, 16/12/11. Excerpt. Edited. http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs12/NLM2011-12-16.pdf
Following the official ceremony to open the Hpa-an Industrial zone, stake-driving activities were held at various warehouse sites, the places chosen for a sub-power station of Thanlwin Ayera Industrial Production and Construction Co, a police station, a mobile communication station of Myanma Posts and Telecommunications, a place for a bike workshop of the Myahtaykywe Co and a factory of the Shwe Thanlwin Co.
Compiler’s note: This industrial zone would appear to be privately owned and operated. Ready supply of electricity would be available from the gas-fired power plant near Thaton which is supplied by the gas pipeline connected with the offshore Yadana field through Kanbauk. Thanlwin, which is in charge of the electrical sub-stations, for the IZ is one of the largest industrial groups in the country. Note the move to having a private company in charge of construction and operation of the power supply system for an entire industrial estate.
ADDITIONAL GAS-FIRED POWER PLANTS TO BE BUILT IN YANGON
Win Ko Ko Latt, Myanmar Times, 05/12/11 (Issue 604). Translated by Zar Zar Soe. Edited. http://mmtimes.com/2011/news/604/news3160416.html
The Union Government has approved a proposal to build two 500-megawatt power plants to ensure adequate electricity supply for Yangon. Deputy EPM-2 Aung Than Oo told a seminar in Nay Pyi Taw on 21/11/11 that the plan had been forwarded to President U Thein Sein, who gave it the tick of approval.
The deputy minister said a South Korean company had proposed the construction of a 500MW gas power-plant in Thanlyin township and two 250MW plants in either Hlaing Tharyar or Ywama townships in Yangon. “I think the Thanlyin power plant may be used for the special economic zone in Thanlyin. So our advisory committee office suggested that the plants should be built for the benefit of the public and the president agreed to it,” he said.
Yangon frequently experiences irregularity in it electricity supply, with blackouts and low voltages a regular occurrence. Aung Than Oo said this was because the four gas turbine plants in the city can only generate 200-250MW, while the rest was transferred to the city from hydropower projects some 1000 kilometres away using 230 kilovolt cables.
U Aung Than Oo said supply to East Dagon, North Dagon, North Okkalapa, Shwe Paukkan and Thaketa townships would improve once a branch plant was completed in East Dagon. He said funds had already been allocated to the project in this year’s budget and it would likely be completed next year. “This project, which will see transfers electric along a 500KV cable, was rejected in previous years because of financial constraints but now the president has allowed it under investment conditions,” he said. The project will be implemented with government funding as well as a soft loan from South Korea. “We are going to construct it urgently,” he said.
Additional references See below: ‘Improved power supply brings better business climate to most’ (MT: 06/06/11)
‘More gas to be diverted’ from Yadana national use (MT: 14/01/08)
NLM, 23/12/11. Edited and revised. http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs12/NLM2011-12-23.pdf
The Dept of Electric Power of EPM-2 and Busan Korea Biotechnology Co Ltd signed an MoU regarding a feasibility study for a combined cycle power plant project that would supply Yangon and the Thilawa Industrial Zone with sufficient electricity on 22/12/11. Densely populated and with a booming economy, Yangon is the largest electricity consuming region and consumes half of the electricity used in the whole country. Moreover demand is growing by 10pc annually. Currently, the four dilapidated power plants in the city can generate only 240 MWs Most of the 700 MW used in the Yangon area comes from hydropower plants in the central and northern parts of the country, resulting in power losses and inefficiency along the 400-mile long power grid that supplies the extra power needed in Yangon. Clearly, Yangon and environs are in immediate need of an additional natural gas-fired and combined cycle power plant.
SHWELI-2, SHWELI-3 DAMS TO DISPLACE THOUSANDS IN SHAN STATE NORTH
Ta’ang Students and Youth Organization, 25/11/11. Edited and summarized.
Based on contacts with villagers along the Shweli river, the Ta’ang (Palaung) Students and Youth Organization, has issued a preliminary report on work being carried out on two hydropower projects on the lower Shweli river. The report, titled Shweli Under Siege, released on 25/11/11, claims that the two projects known as Shweli-2 and Shweli-3 hydropower dams will evenutally displace up to 3,000 people and directly impact over 15,000.
The Shweli-2 project, which is estimated to have a generating capacity of between 500 – 600 megawatts, is under a B.O.T contract signed with a Chinese consortium known as Huaneng Lancang River Hydropower Co Ltd. The consortium already operates the 600-MW Shweli-1 hydropower project which exports most of its electricity across the border to Yunnan province in the PRC.
According to Shweli Under Siege, farmlands have been confiscated, roads built, and surveys were underway in preparation for construction of the Shweli-2 hydropower dam until June of 2011 when conflict broke out between units of the Myanmar army and ethnic resistance forces of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) near the Shweli-1 dam resulting in the withdrawal of Chinese survey crews from the Shweli-2 dam site.
Previous reports had indicated that the same consortium would also undertake the Shweli-3 project farther downstream near the town of Momeik. According to the TYSO report, however, Huaneng has not been active at the Shweli-3 dam site and operations there have centred around road construction and timber removal from the proposed dam reservoir area. As reported in the Myanmar state-press, the government’s Hydropower Implementation Dept signed an agreement in 2010 with Colenco Power Engineerig of Switzerland to carry out consultancy services related to the Shweli-3 project. Shweli Under Siege documents the activities of two national companies, Htoo and Asia World, in road construction and logging around the Shweli-3 site.
This 46-page report has many photos of the picturesque area along the lower Shweli river, as well as of survey activities related to dam construction, and local people and villages in the area. Several good maps showing the locations of the two proposed dams and nearby villages are included.
Summary of information about the Shweli-2project from Shweli Under Seige
The Shweli-2 hydropower dam site is about 30 miles downstream from the Shweli-1 power station, where the river flows southwesterly in the shape of an ‘S’ between Mantong and Namhsam townships through Htonphot, Pinlon, Sawlon, Octkar, and Kaungsoe villages. The dam will be built at the mid-point of the ‘S’, and diversion tunnels will be constructed through the hill north of the river. According to workers at the dam site, the main transmission line from Shweli-2 will go to China. The five villages in the reservoir area of the dam together are made up of 320 housholds with a population of 3600 people, mostly of Ta’ang ethnicity.
As illustrated by the photos in the report, the area around the project site is “simply stunning”, rich in natural beauty with evergreen trees and natural waterfalls. There is an abundance of fish in the river and animals in the surrounding woodlands. Lush forests with many natural herbal plants and roots can be found along the Shweli River near both dam sites. Elephants, deer, wild pigs, peacocks and a variety of other wildlife are found there. However many of these have disappeared since road construction and logging began, however, Women, who rely on harvesting forest products for extra income, medicines and food, are suffering due to the decrease in forest resources. Soldiers using dynamite in local fishing areas have also reduced the numbers of fish found there.
In 2009, soldiers of LIB 144 of the Myanmar army were sent to secure the Shweli-2 dam site.. Since their arrival there have been human rights abuses in the villages near the dam site as soldiers take land, food, livestock and other property without permission from the owners. Eighteen Chinese workers arrived at the Shweli-2 site in early 2010. These workers conducted surveys at different points along the river that included taking core samples which were sent for testing to China. Asia World Co has built a new main road from Shweli-1 to the Shweli-2 site. Compensation for land seized to build the road was limited a 1,000 kyat (less than US$1) for every 4 square feet of land taken. Soldiers took over riverbed farms and fishing areas Lands were also confiscated in the villages close to the river. As a result villagers had to cut out new fields for their rice crop up the mountain but the productivity of these lands is not as good as their riverbank farms.
Summary of information about the Shweli-3project from Shweli Under Seige
A map (p 31) shows the proposed location of the Shweli-3 dam about twelve miles to the north of the town of Mong Mit (Momeik) quite close to the point where river makes a sharp bend to the northwards near the village of Myitson. Also shown are the locations of five villages that will eventually be flooded out by the dam and more than a dozen others that will be affected by work on the project. Charts and graphs (pps 30, 31) document the impact of the dam on the life of the villagers in the dam area. Construction of a new road from the town of Momeik to the dam site began in 2009, but it was not until October 2010 that representatives from each of the five villages in the flood zone immediately upstream of the dam were summoned to a meeting where they were told by local authorities that they would have to move out within three years. Villagers were “:shocked and saddened by the announcement and worry for their future”. Authorities have since said a new place between Momeik and the dam site will be arranged and some compensation will be given, but villagers have no idea if this is true and do not want to move. They are also upset that local sacred religious sites will be destroyed by the dam project.
Logging of teak, kino and other hardwood trees by Chinese and Burmese businesses was rampant along the Shweli River during the dry season from Nov 2010 to May 2011. Big trucks carried timber to China daily, leaving large sections of the important forests along the Shweli River near the proposed dam destroyed. The Asia World Company and Htoo Wood Products Co, two of the largest national companies in Burma, worked on the construction of a new road from Momeik to the dam site and are among the biggest logging companies along the Shweli River. Troops and local militia groups force truck owners to pay bribes in the areas under their control from the Shweli-3 site to the China border. A Forestry Ministry signboard in Momeik township forbids cutting wood but all the large trees have already been removed by the logging companies. A photo in the report shows logs awaiting transport near the site of Shweli-3.
Topographic map reference: Burma 1:250,000: Series U542, U.S. Army Map: NF 47-01: Mong Mit
Shweli no 1 hydropower project near Man Tat village [23° 41' N, 97° 29' E], grid square reference: 38\3, 7\4
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/ams/burma/txu-oclc-6924198-nf47-1.jpg Additional references Data summary Shweli-2Shweli-3 See below: ‘Shweli-1 hydropower plant officially inaugurated’ (NLM: 17/05/09)
'China's first BOT hydropower project in Myanmar revs up' (Mekong News: 30/12/06)
'Shweli transmission line contract Signed’ (People/s Daily Online: 10/10/03)
'Contract for Shweli hydropower project signed with YMEC’ (NLM: 09/08/03)
NLM, 07/10/11. http://www.burmalibrary.org/docs12/NLM2011-10-07.pdf
At the session of the Pyithu Hluttaw on 06/10/11, U Kyaw Myint, the representative for Momeik constituency, asked about the allotment of funds for the repair of the Momeik-Thitkhwepin-Twinnge road. Construction Minister Khin Maung Myint said that the 46-mile-long Twinnge-Momeik road had fallen into disrepair because of heavy truck traffic related to the development of the Shweli-3 hydropower undertaken by EPM-1. Vehicles loaded with pozolan from the pits at Mt Popa in Kyaukpadaung township had caused damage to wooden bridges of all sizes along the road which were unable to withstand such heavy loads. Heavy rains in the monsoon season of 2011 had caused further damage. The Twinnge-Momeik Road is being upgraded to gravel step by step. Collaborative efforts by both EPM-1 and the Ministry of Construction will be made during the open season for maintenance of the road. See also the website of Golden Tristar Co Ltd, a member of the Shwetaung Development Group. http://www.gts-geotechnology.com/project26.htm Among the ongoing projects listed is the construction of the bored pile foundations for the bridge of Shweli-3 hydropower project. Several photos are included.
A three-part agreement on consulting services for the proposed Shweli-3 hydropower project was signed between the government’s Hydropower Implementation Dept and AF-Colenco Ltd of Switzerland on 25/11/10. Among those present were CEO Roberto Gerosa and V-P Jean-Francois Belin of Colenco.
An MoA was signed with Huaneng Lancang River Hydropower Co and Asia World Co Ltd on the Shweli-2 hydropower project. The Shweli-2 project is designed to generate 520 MW and will be developed as a joint venture on the B.O.T system. D-G Kyee Soe signed for the Hydropower Planning Dept of EPM-1, President Yuan Xianghua signed for Huaneng Lancang and Chairman Tun Myint Naing signed for Asia World.
International Crisis Group, China’s Myanmar Strategy: Elections, Ethnic Politics and Economics, p. 8 (Beijing, 21/09/10)
China Power Investment Corporation is investing $30 billion in the Shweli-2 hydropower facility. [In support of this statement a footnote cites 于洪海 [Yu Honghai], 《开发东南亚水电，助力西电东送》， [“Develop Southeast Asian hydropower, support transferring power from Western China to Eastern China”], in 《中国能源报》 [China Energy], 12 May 2010.] Compiler’s note: This is almost certainly an error. China Power Investment Corp is developing a network of dams and power plants on rivers in the upper part of Kachin state. An MoU for the Shweli-2 hydropower project was signed with the Huaneng Lancang River Hydropower Co Ltd in November 2009. There is no reason to believe that there has been a change in the plans to have Huaneng develop Shweli-2 or that the costs of this project would come anywhere close to $ 30 billion.
Gen Than Shwe visits the site of Shweli-3 hydropower project in Momeik township where he is briefed by EPM-1 Zaw Min on the feasibility study for the main embankment, and work on the approach roads of the project as well as plans for building the main embankment, spillway, power intake structure, temporary embankment, saddle dyke and conduit and the arrangements for implementation of the project tasks. EPM-2 Khin Maung Myint reports on plans to supply electricity to the power grid network and installation of power lines. Shweli-1 power plant is generating 600 MW and Shweli-2 is expected to generate 640 MW. [A photo of the site of Shweli-3 is included in the print edition of NLM.]
Shweli-3 dam project will be implemented in Momeik township of Shan State North. On 7 March, EPM-1 Zaw Min, accompanied by Deputy Minister Myo Myint, visits the site where they are briefed by officials. Director Nay Myo Win of No 2 construction group reports to the minister on maintenance of the Twinnge-Momeik road, construction of a road to the dam site, road maintenance in Kyauktaung village, condition of the bridges on Mandalay-Wapyutaung-Momeik road and the road linking Momeik to the dam site. He also reports to him on sites chosen for construction of the project and other hydropower projects on the Shweli river. Geology Director Kyaw Nyein submits a report on geological conditions in the project area, feasibility tests and future plans. Afterwards, they inspect the dam site from a viewing deck on the left bank of the Shweli. (Photos are included in both the print and on-line editions of NLM.)
Agreement signed for consulting services for Shweli-3 hydropower project between the Hydropower Planning Dept of EPM-1 and Colenco Power Engineering Ltd (CPE) of Switzerland and Aung Pyi Tan Co. Signing for Colenco was Executive Vice-President Jean Francois Belin.
Shweli-2 hydropower project will have a generating capacity of 640 MW and is expected to produce 3310 GWh annually; Shweli-3 hydropower project will have a generating capacity of 800 MW and is expected to produce 3995 GWh annually.
A ceremony to sign an MoU on Shweli-2 hydropower project to be jointly implemented by Hydropower Administration Department under EPM-1, Huaneng Lancang River Hydropower Co Ltd of China and Asia World Co Ltd was held at the hall of the ministry. EPM-1 Zaw Min delivered an address. The Executive Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Asia World Co Tun Myint Naing spoke words of thanks. Also present at the ceremony were Executive Vice-Chairman Wang Yongxiang, Executive Vice-President Huang Guangming and party of Huaneng Lancang River Hydropower Co Ltd.
The Hydropower Dept of of EPM-1 and the Yunnan United Power Development Co Ltd of the PRC signed an MoU on hydropower projects Shweli-2 and Shweli-3 to be carried out on the Shweli river. The agreement was signed in Nay Pyi Taw by the D-G of the Hydropower Dept and the vice-president of YUPD Co on 12/05/08. The Shweli-2 hydropower plant will be able to generate 460 MW [640 MW?], and Shweli-3 will generate 360 MW.
Gen Than Shwe visits Shweli No 1 project; he is told that it will generate 600 MW; currently under construction are the concrete embankment, diversion tunnel, pilot channel, power intake building, and approach tunnel. He is also briefed on the installation of the 180 mi-long 230-kv power line from Shweli to Mansan and Shwesaryan near Mandalay. The general is briefed on arrangements for the 460-megawatt Shweli No 2 and the 360-megawatt Shweli No. 3 projects that will be built in Momeik township.
From a report of a meeting of SPIC: Shweli No 2 hydel power plant in Momeik township, 12.5 miles downstream from Shweli No 1, will be implemented. It will be installed with a 460-megawatt generator. EPM-1 will implement Shweli No. 3 hydel power project, 30 miles downstream from Shweli No 2. The power plant will produce 360 megawatts.