Natural Environment, Industries and Myanmar’s Creeks and Rivers Waiting for Saviors

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Source: the global new light of Myanmar, 16th November, 2017. 

Dr.Aung Kyaw,

Translated by Khin Aye Win

With the development of social environment, people's requirements followed the usual pattern of change. So as to possess necessary commodities and bring about services we need for fulfilling uncontrollable needs of people, natural resources given by our planet have to be applied unavoidably. At the time when the global population was not that huge as many as we have today, the world abounded with natural resources to support the necessities of the then populace, but at present it has many limitations to supply all the increasing demands of what we need.

Harming a lot to natural environment

Previously, development of countries was specifically described by their economic development. To achieve such development it was essentially to promote the production of industries. Due to scourges of developing industries— smoke emitted from factories, wastage disposal, sewage and wastewater our natural environment was greatly harmed. While following uncontrollable needs and desires, it leads us to the accumulation of greed/craving, anger and pride. It does not stop here, causing us to devalue our dignity, ethies, customs and traditions. Accordingly, starting from some 5o years ago, people came to be well convinced that economic development alone cannot control the development of a country and its people, laying great stress on sustainability and sustainable development. Sustainability is becoming an essentiality to be taken into consideration by developed and developing countries in laying down policies on industries and policies for exploitation of natural resources, at the present time. Generally speaking, sustainability means fulfilling in ways and means that cannot ruin survival of future generation in exploiting natural resources to supply needs of today's people. It is incumbent upon us as well as on our younger generations to abide by our traditions of not harming human's survival so that we cannot relay the dirty world full of air and

water pollutions as a heritage, without any resources left due to our total exploitation. Sustainable development is meant for conservation of cultures, natural environment and social surrounding

of excellence with the economic development. In other words, it is an idea of taking into consideration of making economic development, natural environment and conservation of social surrounding in harmony. Though it is not that difficult to achieve economic development, it is not easy restore destruction of natural environment and social surrounding to the normal state. So, countries started to aim at achieve sustainable development more than economic development. For

example, PRC suffered great destruction of natural disasters and severe air pollution starting from some 30 years ago, in spite of its industrial and economic developments. Thus, Beijing became a

capital city with poor Air Quality Index.Former Beijing generation longed for economic development, today's Beijing generation expected for Blue Sky more. Japan's development can be said sustainable development as it gained economic progress and managed to conserve natural

environment and virtuous cultural traditions.

Experiencing problems

It can be vividly seen that Myanmar is also facing challenges to acquire sustainable natural environment of excellence for next generations by seeing deforestation in present Myanmar, mining

gems such as jade and ruby in Phakant and Mogok, extinction of rare animals, drying up of rivers and creeks, air and water pollutions. Though there are many challenges on sustainable natural

environment, I hereby in this article will present situations of decreasing water quality in creeks and rivers, their consequences and causes and performances made by the government and authorities

for conservation. Technicians and natural environment conservation activists pointed out the decreasing water quality through laboratory experiments of collected water sample for long. Due to decreasing water quality, aquatic animals were killed and hygiene of the consumers of those animals will be surely harmed in the long run, for example a large number of fish in Taung Tha Man Lake were killed a few years ago. It will harm economy of fishermen for sure, and reduce the quality of crops on account of water irrigated from those lakes and ponds. And, it can cause destruction on export markets of those crops. Several years ago, laboratory examination of black sesame seeds exported to Japan had depicted that its export failure was attributed to toxin contamination in it, which was directly connected to the river water irrigated. According to the sesame exporter, those

sesame needs to be stored in storage rooms for years to reach the stage Japanese side can accept. Most people regard that decreasing water quality in rivers was firstly attributed to consideration of rivers to be a place for disposing sewage and dirt. Riverside towns such as Pyay, Pa-an, Monywa, and Mawlamyaing have piles of dirt alongside the rivers. One of the reason is the use of cyanide used in gold mining, causing water contaminate with toxins.

Water Pollution Getting Worse

Factory waste water is the main factor in polluting the river water, making the water toxic and harming the aquatic creatures. Among the factories that discharge the untreated waste water into the river through ditches, creeks and streams, textile factories and distilleries are known to be the worst of all. Many new distilleries sprung up very rapidly with the upsurge of liquor drinkers. According to the report of "Green Images of Myanmar," there are 72 distilleries- licensee and 25 distilleries are now in operation. The capacity of the smallest distilleries is 4000 gallons a day and the largest factory has been producing 30000 gallons a day. Waste water drainage per day from those factories has amounted to 4 million gallons. Out of those distilleries there are only 4 factories

that have completed building waste water treatment system with 2 factories in the course of building WWTS. The remaining factories are still in preparatory stage of studying the technology

for WWT. Some are in the stage of having dug a waste water storage pits. The waste water collected in the pits is also dangerous for ground water as the waste water can percolate into the ground water reservoirs. It is a real threat to users of groundwater as drinking water. Therefore, the factory wastewater should be discharged after the treatment rather than discharging direct into the streams and rivers through the drains and pipes and also storing waste water in the earth pits. Though waste water treatment will initially cost a great deal, it will, in the long term provide beneficial effect on the public health. It can also indirectly support the fruit and vegetable market and also positive effect on natural environment.

Suffer from the evil effect

As the distilleries factories discharge waste water direct into rivers, streams and soil, the following benefits can be gained; the factory owners can lower the cost of production and the consumers can have more reasonable price for drinks. However aquatic animals, people of fishery sector, farmers, exporters, tourism sector, natural environment and quality of water resource have suffered a great deal of adverse effect. Forcing the distilleries to employ waste water treatment system at their factories can provide the benefits of having less number of drinkers due to high price of liquor and consequently reducing the expense budget in public health and stemming the deterioration of human resource.

Make decision after discussion

The Union Government has also ordered local authorities in region and states to inspect distilleries and to shut down distilleries which have no proper waste water treatment system. In accordance with the rules and regulations, chief ministers and lawmakers from Ayeyawady and Mandalay regions made the field trips to alcohol distilleries in the regions looking into the waste water treatment systems there. Following the inspections, they took measures including reducing the waste water volume, suspension of alcohol distilleries until they have proper waste water treatment system and shutting down the factories. Similarly, the General Administration Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs inspected the sewage treatment of the distilleries in Shwepyitha Township and ordered them to follow sewage water regulations prescribed in the 2012 Environmental Conservation Law which says the owner of a distillery is obliged to take all measures in order to manage the sewage treatment system of the factory.

Responsibility rests on all citizens of Myanmar

It is not easy to repair the damages caused by the environmental degradation. Hence, sustainability should be taken into account when policies and tasks related with natural environment are laid down. The responsibility rests not only on the government but also on the experts and the people. Hence, in order to improve the water quality of the country's rivers which is connected with the

environment, public health and socio economy of the peoples, law enforcement for monitoring alcohol distilleries should be made to ensure that they dispose only treated water into the

rivers. Meanwhile, the people are urged not to throw away garbage into the rivers.

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