Sunday, 17 November 2019

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Junta’s projects destroy lives, environment: report

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Burmese military junta’s so-called developmental projects including dam constructions, gas explorations and mining of natural resources have severely  harmed the environment and caused mass relocation, uprooting communities, a new report said.

A new report by a coalition of Environmental Groups, Burma Environment Working Group (BEWG) said the natural environment in Burma has been severely affected by the junta’s developmental projects and caused mass relocation, generating refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs).

The report: “Accessible Alternatives: Ethnic Communities’ Contribution to Social Development and Environmental Conservation in Burma”, reveals the harsh impacts inflicted on the environment and the livelihoods of ethnic people by junta’s current development goals.

Saw Paul Sein Twa, a spokesperson for the BEWG, on Thursday told Mizzima that the destruction of the natural environment in Burma is rapid as the ruling regime continues to embark on various projects, which they dub as developmental projects.

“The junta’s so-called developmental projects are becoming the main source of destruction of the environment and course of human livelihood because they are not interested in the people and the environment but are only concerned about their benefits,” Paul said.

He said such developmental projects comes at the cost of the lives of ethnic communities as the junta relocates villages, confiscate their lands for the projects and cause rampant human rights violations.

“But the return from these projects are not entitled to the local communities but are used to strengthen the military rulers,” he added.

The report, which includes nine case studies on issues related to natural resource management in different parts of Burma including Arakan, Karen, Kachin and Shan States, said while each case study describes a variety of issues, they all describe a pattern: Communities have had their own systems of natural resource management that supported their lives and that also ensured that the resources were not depleted.

“But inevitably, militarization and development projects in the area have destroyed the environment and made it impossible for the local people to continue their traditional way of life,” the report said.

Unless there is a change in the pattern, and if the Burmese junta continues with its rampant developmental projects, Paul said, grave danger awaits future generations.

“The international community including neighbouring countries should come out of the ‘macro’ aspect and look into matters in Burma in the micro level and urge the Burmese junta to stop their ongoing environmental destruction,” Paul said.

The BEWG, a coalition of environmental organizations and activists, in its report takes the cases of the destruction of mangrove forests and oil explorations in Arakan State, forest reservation in Kachin State, logging and environmental protection in Karen state and building the Tasang dam on the Salween river in Shan State.  

“We wanted to draw attention to the knowledge and practices of ethnic communities that ensure sustainable natural resource management,” said Saw Paul Sein Twa.

“If we want to preserve Burma’s rich environment for our children, the value of traditional natural resource management methods should be recognized widely, and serious efforts should be made now to restore them where they have been destroyed,” he added.


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