Fifteen villages in Amarapura, Mandalay Division, have no alternative but to bathe in and drink polluted water due to the release of industrial toxins by factories in the city of Mandalay into the Dokhtawaddy River, also known as the Myitnge River.
“Mandalay industrial zone has been releasing waste into the river for between five and 10 years. The pollution means water from the river is unsafe to use,” said Kyaw Kyaw Oo, a resident of Kankyae village.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has recently provided US$ 2 million for community development projects in Mandalay, which include the upgrade of drinking water infrastructure. Research undertaken by the Mandalay City Development Project in connection to the ADB’s funding scheme revealed that 97 local factories discharge 400,000 gallons of untreated wastewater every day.
That pollution is having a devastating effect on the health and economy on villagers downstream.
Speaking to DVB last week, Satoe Village administrator Aung Kyi said, “The industrial water is now flowing into the Dokhtawaddy River, east of Satoe village. The water comes to the river through Ta-Bouk stream.
“The waste from industrial zone goes into [Mandalay’s] South Lake and North Lake, before reaching the Dokhtawaddy. In the past, people bred fish in the lakes. Now due to the polluting waste water from industrial zone, people cannot breed fish.”
Those who can afford to dig deep wells have been able to access drinking water. However the majority of villagers are forced to rely on river water, which Aung Kyi says is giving their children skin problems.
Despite the dire situation that the Mandalay villagers are facing, they say they have not yet received any donations of water.
The Dokhtawaddy River has its source in China’s Yunnan Province and is one of the main tributaries of the Irrawaddy, officially spelled the Ayeyarwady, which is Burma’s second largest waterway, providing water and livelihoods for millions of people.