Factory waste affects villagers along Dotehtawady: groups

factory_0 A man collects recyclable material from a rubbish strewn riverbank in Myanmar. Photo - EPA

27 June 19 - Source: Myanmar Times - Residents of Amarapura township, Mandalay Region, are suffering because factories dump wastewater in the Dotehtawady River, and the government needs to address the problem, said U Maung Maung Oo, leader of the Natural Green Alliance.

The city said it would build a wastewater treatment system in 2014 but hasn't done anything, he said.

"The wastewater problem has been occurring for a long time. We should ask who failed to carry out this work. We know that about 500,000 gallons of wastewater are discharged per day. When the weather is very hot, the wastewater produces foul odours, and we feel ill. We need a solution. I want to know how those responsible will solve it," U Maung Maung Oo told a meeting of residents and civil society groups.

According to 2015 National Environmental Quality guidelines of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, wastewater, including from distilleries, should have a maximum Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) value of 50 milligrams per litre. But wastewater from the Mandalay Industrial Zone tested in late 2016 by the regional government was found have a BOD value of 17,000 to 20,000, said Regional Environmental Conservation Department Assistant Director Thant Zin Tun.

A tender was called for a BOD system for the Mandalay Industrial Zone central wastewater processing plant and accumulation system. Thailand's Hydrotech Plc won the tender for 50 years with a construction term of two years, but the agreement has had to be modified many times, U Myint Htwe, MP for Amarapura constituency 2, told the Mandalay Regional Hluttaw in April.

Daw Hla Kyin, 71, of Nyaung Ni Bin village, said, "I have to buy drinking water though I can't afford it. Before the wastewater disposal started, there were no mosquitoes, but now we can't live without a mosquito net. Paddy turns yellow and dies. We can't grow beans. We don't want wastewater dumped in the river. I have really strong feelings about this. I want to kill whoever's doing it. If it continues, I will probably get a disease and die."

Over 50 people from the villages of Nyaung Ni Bin, Myo Pyi Gyi, Myo Thit, Myitnge, Nyaung Pin Sauk, Sar Toe, Taung Inn and Myauk Inn that are suffering from the effects of the wastewater attended the meeting to discuss how to solve it.

A ten-inch pipe is draining wastewater full-time, said U Wunna Aung of the Primary Colour Civic Education Network.

"People who bathe in the river get rashes. If they swallow the water, they can get intestinal diseases. The river water can seep into the underground wells of local residents, causing harm. Children should not be allowed to bathe in the river, and the fish from the river shouldn't be eaten," U Wunna Aung said. – Translated

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