Human activities in, on and around Burma's water bodies
Threats to Burma's water bodies and their communities
Damage to mangrove swamps
|Title:|| ||Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project
|Date of publication:|| ||November 2009|
|Description/subject:|| ||A preliminary report from the
Arakan Rivers Network (ARN)...1. Executive Summary:
"On April 2nd 2008 the Indian government signed an agreement with the Burmese
military junta for the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project. The project
will connect the landlocked area of Northeast India with the sea via Western
Burma (Myanmar) and open up trade routes to Southeast Asia. Engineering plans show that widespread damage will be done to the coast of
Arakan State, Western Burma, which is a key area for mangrove forests, shrimp
farms and fishing.2 Similar damage will be done to the Kaladan River and surrounding
paddy fields, cutting off much needed supplies of food, on which over
a million local civilians depend. Furthermore, the proposed highway is to be
built straight through the mountainous forests of Chin State, which are home to
many endangered species.
On top of this, large-scale militarisation has already been reported in the project
area, which has led to forced labour on military infrastructure, forced relocation,
extortion, physical and sexual abuse and an exodus of thousands of Arakanese
families into India. There seems to have been no effort made by the junta or the
Indian companies involved to protect the wellbeing of local civilians who already
live in extreme poverty and have been given no choice about the project."|
|Source/publisher:|| ||Arakan Rivers Network (ARN)|
|Format/size:|| ||pdf (5.14MB)|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||12 December 2009|
Pollution of Burma's water bodies
|Title:|| ||Fears for a Floating World
|Date of publication:|| ||July 2010|
|Description/subject:|| ||A Burmese documentary filmmaker highlights the steady environmental degradation of Inle Lake...
"Burmese filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi planned to shoot a documentary about the beauty of Inle Lake, but after seeing the environmental damage the once-pristine lake has incurred in recent years, he decided to use the film to educate the public about the degradation of one of his country’s natural wonders..."|
|Author/creator:|| ||Wawi Weng|
|Source/publisher:|| ||"The Irrawaddy" Vol. 18, No. 7|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||30 August 2010|
Theats to Burma's estuaries
|Title:|| ||In the Balance: Salween dams threaten downstream communities in Burma
|Date of publication:|| ||May 2007|
|Description/subject:|| ||Summary: "
The Salween is Southeast Asia's longest free flowing river and one of Burma's most important waterways. For the half a million people living where the river meets the Andaman Sea, the Salween is a way of life interlinked with its seasonal flows and daily tides. However, Burma's military dictatorship, together with Thai and Chinese investors, is moving ahead with plans to dam the Salween. The communities living downstream have not been informed or consulted about the dam plans or their potential impacts, even though their lives stand to be permanently altered.
This report describes the unique geography and ecology of the downstream estuary, where salt water meets fresh and the mainstream Salween and its two main tributaries are tidal for up to 75 kilometers inland. Numerous islands, some of them seasonal and some of them culturally sacred, are rich with fertile sediment that flows down the Salween each year. The delicate mix of salt and fresh water created by the seasonal flow of the river and the rise and fall of the tides determines daily life. Local people collect fresh water at high tide and store it in community pools for drinking and household use, and manage a system of canals to irrigate fields with fresh water and protect crops from salt water. In this way, villages subsist and provide farm produce to the capital city of Mon State and the five townships at the mouth of the Salween.
Natural seasonal floods irrigate and replenish fields, and support the migration of fish species that use flooded habitats as spawning grounds before returning to the sea. Fisher folk carefully follow the migration patterns of countless species to make their catch and provide fish paste, one of the essential ingredients of Mon food. Wild plants that grow in the unique mix of salt and fresh water of the estuary are used as medicines and food.
If the dams are built, the downstream effects, as studied elsewhere in the world, stand to alter the lives of over half a million people. These effects include altered river flows that cause higher concentrations of salt water to travel further inland. Changes in water quality, salinity, or seasonal flows are likely to make community water pools undrinkable and affect agricultural crops. Sudden and unnatural water surges increase erosion, destroy islands, and make the river dangerous to local communities. In addition, the decreased amount of sediment reaching downstream damages agriculture. A decline in fish catches due to interrupted migrations will impact the protein source of the local diet. Any one of these changes to the river would tip the balance fine-tuned over generations between self-reliant communities and their environment. Lastly, the proposed dams lie on active earthquake fault lines; dam breaks would be a disaster.
Yet, despite all these concerns and potential problems, those living downstream have not even been informed of the project and unknown to them, their future is left hanging in the balance. The suppression of free media and arrests, beatings, and extra-judicial killings of anyone that challenges the regime in Burma make it impossible to access adequate information or to question the projects. Any dam project needs to take into consideration the social and environmental impacts on those living downstream and, most importantly, allow for their informed consent. This is impossible under the military dictatorship in Burma. The Mon Youth Progressive Organization therefore calls on all parties to halt their investments and stop the Salween dam projects."|
|Language:|| ||English, Burmese, Thai, Chinese.|
|Source/publisher:|| ||Mon Youth Progressive Organization|
|Format/size:|| ||pdf (English, 743K; Burmese, 1.2MB; Thai, 1MB; Chinese, 83K)|
|Alternate URLs:|| ||http://www.burmariversnetwork.org/images/stories/publications/burmese/inthebalanceburmese.pdf (Burmese)
|Date of entry/update:|| ||07 May 2007|