By Si Thu Lwin
Yangon, May 16, 2018
Environmentalists and non government groups were dissatisfied with the results of water management and environmental impact assessment (EIA) performance project in the country’s waterways.
A three-year project was conducted from June 2015 to May 2018 by the Natural Resource and Environmental Conservation Ministry, the Mandalay City Development Committee and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
U Soe Hein, coordinator of the civil society group Green Justice, said the study did not measure the content of big minerals, such as lead and arsenic, on the waterways.
“Laboratory tests done for the project didn’t include for the content of some big minerals such as the lead and arsenic, which are included even in the report by civil society organizations,” he said. “Such a big organization should officially state those metal contents.”
He lamented that other civil society groups, local residents and experts for universities had not been consulted on the conduct of the project.
The project includes water quality surveys, database development, interpretation of water pollution control plan and technical guideline format preparations and review on impact assessments, said Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) leader Itaru Okuda.
“During the project period, objectives were implemented. We expect to support Myanmar on reduction of industrial waste issues and improving review on environmental impact assessment. Waste water inspection was mainly made along Yangon Hlaing river where industrial zones are present and on Dotehtawady River (in Mandalay),” Okuda said.
As water testing was done only two times within a year at Dotehtawady delta, it cannot guarantee the right inspection and it is not satisfactory, U Maung Maung Oo from Nature Green group said.
“Only two-time inspection within a year resulted in the discrepancies from ground situation. They replied that they are going to conduct as discussed,” he said.
Our natural resources should be put under the control of Regional Administration. We welcome technical assistance but we want fully-compliant implementation,” U Maung Maung Oo added.
Civil society groups took exception to the finding in the study that said nitrogen and phosphorous content on Dotehtawady River and fields in Taungthaman Lake is high as a result of farming waste and fertilizers.
Although civil society organizations and experts from universities have started surveying and observing industrial waste since 2013, they were not invited to cooperate in the project and not shared information resulting in such disagreement, U Soe Hein said.
“It didn’t contain the voices of residents and civil society organizations. It had only the voices of departments and Japanese experts. It is a sad thing to exclude the voice of experts from universities who are practically working,” U Soe Hein said.
Waste water treatment plant construction for waste disposal in Dotehtawady river has been taking too long and cooperation of firms that have been allowed to operate in the area has not been satisfactory, U Maung Maung Oo said.