Monday, October 17, 2011

Youth Campaign for 24-Hour Electricity in Arakan State

Narinjara News 
Kyauk Pru: A youth group in western Burma's Arakan State has started a campaign to demand electricity be supplied throughout Arakan with power generated by the gas being found in their state.

Poster-Arakan Campaign poster for 24 hours electricity supply in Arakan
"We have started the campaign by sticking up posters that read, 'We must have rights to use our own gas. Give us 24 hours of electricity immediately", in all townships in our state," said a youth who participated in the campaign.

The campaign reportedly started on 12 October and is particularly focused on Kyaukpru Township, the main site of the Shwe Gas Project in Arakan State.

"We have focused our campaign especially in Kyaukpru Township. We have stuck many posters stimulating the local people on the islands of Madae and Malar in Kyuakpru Township, and at many places in the nearby townships of Ramere and Taungok as well," said the youth.

It was also learned that the posters are spreading in rural villages across Arakan State.

The Arakanese youth have started to campaign for 24-hour electrical supply in their state after the energy minister, U Than Htay, recently stated in parliament that his regime has no plan to use Arakan's offshore gas for Arakan State.

Dissatisfaction and anger are growing amongst the Arakanese people as news is also emerging that the regime has not only sold off Arakan's offshore gas to China, but has also planned for other gas from the region to fuel only factories owned by the government and its army officers.

The youth said they have started the campaign with the participation of many youth from all the towns in their region as a first step in order to fight for their own right to get electricity generated by the gas that has been extracted from their state at low prices.

"We have started our campaign with the posters as our first step in order to organize our people for their participation in our movement to get 24-hour electricity at affordable prices in all towns and rural areas in our state, and we will also carry on our movement drawing cooperation from our people living in exile. We hope the whole people of our state will join us in our movement to get electricity generated from our own gas," said the youth.

Arakan State has the lowest level of electricity supplied in all of Burma. The electricity currently supplied in the state is generated from expensive diesel and petrol engines and residents also have to pay higher rates - 400 to 600 Kyat per unit of electricity - than anywhere else in Burma.

In central Burma, electricity is charged at a rate of 28 Kyat per unit for household use and 50 Kyat per unit for industrial use. The electricity being produced from the generators in Arakan is too low in voltage to run factories, but households are charged significantly more per unit than in central Burma. Because of this, most of the people living in the region are unable to access electricity at all.

The dissatisfaction with the Burmese regime is now growing amongst the Arakanese people as successive regimes have not only neglected to provide the electricity that is necessary for development of the region, but are now selling off natural gas in Arakan to China without the slightest consideration for the need for gas power in the state.
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