Lindsay Murdoch, Darwin – More than 600 non-government organisations have warned that three second-hand power plants under construction in East Timor may endanger the health and livelihoods of the country's 1 million people.
Joining environmental groups that have already attacked the construction of the polluting heavy oil plants, the Timor Leste NGO Forum accused the Dili Government of failing to consider other electricity technologies and not obtaining an independent assessment of the environmental impact before approving the $400 million project.
"We fear the project undercuts sustainable development, could squander public resources and may endanger people's livelihoods and health," the forum said in a statement at a government conference in Dili.
The statement represents the views of East Timor NGOs and other overseas organisations that work in the country.
The re-siting of the more than 20-year-old plants from China to East Timor threatens to tarnish Beijing's image in the country, where it is one of the biggest foreign donors.
The Government decided to buy the plants from the Chinese Nuclear Industry 22nd Construction Company without an open tendering process. They will commit East Timor, which is rich in gas, to importing expensive heavy oil for decades.
Environmental groups say the plants will create acid rain, water pollution, toxic solid waste, particulate air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
The East Timorese Government has refused to halt preliminary work on the project despite the President, Jose Ramos Horta, expressing his concern about it.