Burmese Authorities Clean Up Waste Water Near Mandalay


2004.10.01
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BANGKOK—Local authorities outside Burma’s second-largest city have been cleaning up contaminated waste water that was flowing freely, several feet high, after a junta-backed group locked down sluice gates on a local river to keep its own fish farm clean.

“Most people living along the waste-water creek are quite happy about the intervention of the Mandalay regional commander [Gen. Ye Myint] himself in addressing the waste water problem.”

The contaminated water, which appears to comprise sewage and industrial waste, was flowing thigh-high last week in parts of Aungmyathazan Ward, a suburb of 500 homes on the western outskirts of Mandalay, witnesses said.

“In some places it reached people’s knees and thighs,” one witness said. The high water level made it difficult to travel in the area, which includes a sugar-cane factory and lumber factory, they said.

“Since the early morning of Sept. 29, the police and local volunteers came to our neighborhood and drained the waste water,” said one resident of suburban Mandalay who asked not to be named. “They also said higher-level authorities would visit this area. Since that cleaning effort, the waste water in our neighborhood is gradually drying up.”

Thingazar Creek, which feeds into the Irrawaddy River, began running black and dirty in mid-September, sources told RFA’s Burmese service.

The waters began overflowing when officials closed sluice gates at the point where the creek feeds into the Irrawaddy, apparently to keep the polluted waters from flowing downstream into fishponds owned by the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), the sources said. The USDA is a civic group sanctioned and patronized by the ruling military junta, the sources said.

High-level intervention

“Most people living along the waste-water creek are quite happy about the intervention of the Mandalay regional commander [Gen. Ye Myint] himself in addressing the waste water problem,” said another source, a resident of Mandalay’s Chan Aye Tharzan quarter who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

Little information is available about the area. But an article in the official Burmese media reported that junta leader Gen. Than Shwe had on April 18, 2003 “inspected sanitation works carried out for cleanliness and beautifying of Thingazar Creek and progress in upgrading Strand Road to an eight-lane facility...”

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