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NLD forms environment protection committee


New Delhi (Mizzima) – The environment is moving into a more high profile position in Burma these days, with political parties making it a priority in the new Parliament and more civic groups taking up the cause.

A farmer plows a field in Bagan in central Burma. The National League for Democracy has formed an environmental subcommittee to address ecology issues, as the environment assumes a larger role in Burmese society. Photo: MizzimaOne of the latest signs of environmental activism is the formation of an environmental protection subcommittee by the National League for Democracy.

Formed on April 27, the committee’s mission is to represent environmental interests in the area of  dam construction, irrigation projects and the agricultural use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

‘We have experienced many ecological changes and impacts in Burma’, NLD  Information Department In-charge Ohn Kyaing told Mizzima. ‘They were caused by building dams and irrigation canals in some delta regions. And also using chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture. Our objective is to conserve the ecological system and promote awareness campaigns among farmers on environmental issues’.

Environmentalists welcomed the NLD’s move into the environment, saying the issue must be addressed by all levels of government and the public.

“It is a good sign to see that the ruling government, NGOs, the opposition and businessmen are all interested in this issue and take part in the work’, noted environmentalist and scholar U Ohn of the Forest Resource Environment Development and Conservation Association (FREDA) told Mizzima.  ‘We must welcome them. This issue concerns everybody; government and businessmen. The government has a responsibility to do this work, and at the same time the people and businessmen must join hands and work’.

In his inaugural address to Parliament, President Thein Sein talked about conservation of the environment at length, saying that he would weigh the need for economic development and the conservation of environment.

The NLD subcommittee has 12 members including farmers, scholars and intellectuals who have attended training sessions provided by the NLD.

Forty-six farmers from Irrawaddy, Rangoon and Rakhine states and other regions attended a 3-day training session on April 27.

Experts and scholars from the NLD party provided lectures on how to use pesticides, land use and soil erosion, agricultural loans and grazing land. A second training session is now underway. The subcommittee members will return to their native areas where they will share their knowledge with area residents.

One of the discussions, said an NLD spokesperson, centered on the environmental change in the Irrawaddy delta region.

‘Occasionally, the tide brings in bacteria along with toxic chemicals’, said U Ohn said. Among the worst-hit environmental areas are coastal regions in Rakhine State and the Irrawaddy delta region, say researchers.

Inle Lake in Shan State is also experiencing toxic pollution and the regions along the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers are facing serious pollution due to irresponsible gold panning and gold mining processes that use mercury, U Ohn said.

‘Consumers of  fish get toxic material and it can endanger their health. This situation can be found elsewhere in Burma’, he said.

U Ohn said success in the conservation of the environment is based on the enactment of precise and comprehensive laws that adress the issue in the long term.

Recently, the NLD has formed varioius social organizations and networks to work in areas of free education for needy children, health care including HIV/AIDs and blood donation, assistance to political prisoners and legal aid.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 May 2011 16:16 )  

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