MP urges gov’t to resolve Rakhine State’s river pollution controversy

Narinjara News

August 21, 2018

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Pyithu Hluttaw MP U Pe Than from Myebon Township, Rakhine State has called on the government to clarify the issue on the water pollution and the changing of water color in some rivers in the Rakhine State due to contradictions in the statements released by the government and the Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM).

“There are confusions among the people concerning this water [issue]. Some of them are very worried. I have learned about the decline in catching fish and shrimps. The government should show transparency and explain why this is happening to the water,” he said.

According to a statement released by the ALARM on August 17, the environmental group claimed that water pollution is very high in the rusty-colored water, which started appearing in the Thanzit River in the northwest of the Maday Island in Kyaukpyu Township, Rakhine State since the third week of July, and can pose a threat to humans and aquatic animals.

The ALARM conducted a laboratory test on 16 physical and chemical elements found in the sample of the Thanzit River and found that the lead level was ten times higher than normal and the phenol level was 26 times higher than normal so it concluded that the Thanzit River may be hazardous.

However, U Htay Aung, the deputy permanent secretary from the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, told the press conference on August 13 that the ministry has conducted a laboratory test on the water sample and did not find any oil slicks or oil scent so the change in water color could not have been caused by oil and it may have been caused by the surfacing of algae and silt from the riverbed and boulders due to high flow of current in the Thanzit River’s riverbed.

He denied the rumor of an oil spill causing water pollution and death of fish and shrimps along the Maday Island’s deep water seaport in Kyaukpyu Township and explained with the sea water samples from that site.

U Pe Than said the government should investigate and openly reveal the results on what has been causing the changing of water color if it is not caused by oil.

“The government needs to openly inform the public about why the water pollution and changing of color have been happening in some rivers in the Rakhine State. Doesn’t the government has the duty to explain why this is happening if it’s not caused by oil dregs?  The water pollution and changing of color do not occur naturally so I want the government to immediately investigate it and reveal [the findings] to the public with transparency,” said U Pe Than.

The public has been feeling concerned after the water pollution and changing of water color in the Thanzit River near the Maday Island of Kyaukpyu Township have reached to Myebon and Ann townships.

Fish and shrimp farmers have blocked the flow of water to prevent contaminated water from affecting their fish and shrimp farms and they have suffered losses after the embankments of the shrimp farms were damaged by flooding last week.

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