The results of a discussion held in the Shan State Energy Forum will be sent to both the state and Union governments to influence policymaking, a forum organizer has said.
The forum was held in Taunggyi at the Taunggyi City Hotel from July 27-28, and was attended by nearly 140 people from 67 organizations. Participants included locals, civil society representatives, political activists, parliamentarians and energy experts.
“Burma has an energy policy. There is no energy policy in our Shan State,” organizer Nang Wah Nu—who is also an environmental filmmaker and former MP—told SHAN. “For civil society organizations, we are so worried that the Shan State government will draw up a separate policy and implementation plan. I am worried about our region. So we organized this kind of forum.”
Nang Wah Nu said that she has been waiting for policy to be drafted since 2018, when parliamentarians from the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy proposed a discussion of the state’s electricity law. The issue was sent to the Union level authorities, but no talks have been held.
Sai Maung Tin, a former MP and the chair of the Shan State Literature and Culture Association, told SHAN that local hydropower projects which produce 30 megawatts or less of electricity are currently allowed to operate in the state.
“What I want to suggest is that the Union government needs to buy excess energy from the state government after locals have used what they need. I think it’s important,” he explained.
The Union government is too centralized, with too much control over the state and regional governments in the country, Sai Maung Tin said, adding that it hinders development.
Civil society throughout Shan State have long voiced opposition to mega-dams on the state’s rivers, including the Salween and its many tributaries. If completed, these proposed projects would export hydropower to neighboring countries, while displacing locals and disrupting traditional livelihoods.