Environment


Villages in Sagaing Division’s Kalewa Township along the Chindwin River are now experiencing a shortage of clean drinking water amid floods inundating homes and sullying water sources, according to local residents.

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An editorial in the Burmese state-run newspaper The Mirror has argued that the construction of the highly controversial Chinese-backed Myitsone Dam in Kachin State—suspended since 2011—should be completely abandoned, because it harms relations between Burma and China.

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The government will not renew mining permits for jade and gems when they expire and will only consider issuing new permits once by-laws to the Myanmar Gemstones Law have been passed, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation said yesterday.

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It is home to myriad rare creatures and even, legend says, a dragon. Pilgrims believe that gold in the surrounding hills is one of nine Buddhist miracles to grace the region.

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Hundreds of flood victims protested in Magwe Region’s Sidoktaya township on July 17, demanding upgrades to local dams and compensation for crops lost to flooding.

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Northern Burma’s Myitsone mega-project failed because its Chinese proponents systematically dismissed Kachin and Burmese nationalism. The Chinese hydropower developers’ strategy was what I call “anti-ethno-politics”: when the state, NGOs, businesses, or other actors try to depoliticise sensitive questions about how their own activities clash with a nationalism. Such anti-ethno-politics is the Chinese government’s dominant approach to ethnic minorities and economic development in China. But it clearly failed in Burma. Why?

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Saw Alex Htoo is the deputy director of Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN). He grew up along the Salween River in Karen State. He talks to DVB about the current threats the people and wildlife are facing with new hydropower projects proposed in the area.

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No new irrigation dams will be built during the tenure of the current government, and spending on existing facilities will be halved, says Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Tun Win.

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Approximately a thousand people have been evacuated to safety from around 200 homes in Latpadaung, in Sagaing Division’s Salingyi Township, after flash floods caused the Chindwin River to overflow.

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In his column in the June 16 edition of Frontier, Sithu Aung Myint wrote that the Chinese Ambassador, Mr Hong Liang, with a delegation from China’s State Power Investment Cooperation, recently visited Kachin State to lobby for the resumption of work on the stalled Myitsone Dam.

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The National Environmental Policy is getting an upgrade from the version first enacted in 1940.

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To avoid depleting the stock, fishing has been banned from May to August, when fish are in their juvenile stages, according to fisheries officials. However, enforcing the prohibition is proving complicated, said U Tin Win Myint, director of Yangon Region’s Fisheries Department.

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Authorities apprehended a member of an elephant poaching ring on Wednesday near Bhamo Creek in Irrawaddy Division’s Myittaya forest reserve while three other members managed to escape.

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Burma’s largest producer of timber has declared a nationwide, one-year moratorium on logging, according to a spokesperson for the state-owned enterprise.

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Delivering peace in Myanmar is the top priority of the country’s first democratically elected government in over 60 years. A close analysis of the recent spike in fighting in northern Kachin State shows that won’t be possible unless those at the table tackle the role of natural resources, particularly jade, in fuelling conflict.

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Law enforcement officials in Pegu Division’s Kyauktaga Township on Thursday opened fire on trucks carrying illegal timber as they tried to run a checkpoint.

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Any company wanting to benefit from exploiting Myanmar’s rich natural resources should have to give something back to the communities in which it operates.

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When the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism trumpeted 3 million foreign visitors in 2014, there was one statistic it was less keen to publicise.

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With a crackdown announced on the illegal timber trade—and a proposed nationwide logging ban by the end of the fiscal year in March 2017—seizures of illegally cut logs have exceeded 10,000 tons in the first quarter from April to June.

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People living along the Salween River are calling for a review of plans to build mega-dams on the river ahead of an official visit to Thailand by Burma’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi this week.

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