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Vice President calls for more effort to clean up polluted Inlay Lake

New Delhi (Mizzima) – Vice President Sai Mauk Kham urged people not to build more floating cultivated islands in Inlay Lake, which has been polluted with toxins and is facing depleted water levels.

Sai Mauk Kham spoke at an environment meeting at Inlay Lake on Sunday that was attended by ministers from the Forest Ministry, Agriculture and Irrigation Ministry and officials from the Myanmar Agriculture Department.

Cultivating floating vegetable islands, in rear,  with chemical fertilizers is a cause of pollution on Inlay Lake. Photo: MizzimaHe urged people not ‘to build more cultivated floating islands and houses on the lake, and to clear the unnecessary floating islands, algae and flotsam in order to de-silt the lake’. He also called for no logging around a 20-mile radius of the lake.

There are 36 village tracts inhabited by 170,000 people at Inlay Lake and its surrounding area.

Environmentalist U Ohn of the Forest Resource Environment Development and Conservation Association (FREDA) noted that local people would face severe restrictions on their incomes if the recommendations were implemented without effective government support.

‘Livelihood is important for the local people’, he said. ‘The local people have settled here for many generations and survived by this lake so we must give priority to the people. Development and environment is always in a tug-of-war. It will be successful only if we can handle this issue cleverly and patiently’, he told Mizzima.

The Inlay region-based Inn National Development Party Chairman Win Myint said, ‘Manufacturing, cottage industry and small-scale industry should be established here in order to make living on the shore more attractive for local people. This way the local people could get employment and could reduce waste in the lake’.

Previously Inlay Lake had a surface area of 100 square miles. That decreased to 23 square miles in 2007, when the lake faced a devastating drought. The depth of the lake is an average 7 feet in the summer and rises to bout 12 feet in the rainy season.
Depleted water levels of Inlay Lake are caused by silting and the logging of timber around around the lake, in addition to other factors. Photo: MizzimaSai Mauk Kham also called for more trees to be planted in the region and embankments to be improved to prevent silting.

He called for more conservation of the environment and more awareness campaigns, saying it was one of the duties of the government, and he urged more cooperation between local residents and businesses to improve conservation.

Inlay Lake is one of Burma’s major natural attractions and is listed by the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) as a heritage site.

Conservationist U Ohn said it would take at least 10 years to restore Inlay Lake to its normal condition and would require special laws in addition to restrictions and regulations.

‘The existing laws are not adequate. For instance, we don’t have any environment law yet. More importantly for conservation, lnlay Lake needs a biodiversity law. I mean we should use bio-fertilizer rather than chemical fertilizers when growing vegetables in the lake’.

According to Win Myint, pollution in the lake is caused by the use of chemical fertilizers in the cultivation of about 8,000 acres of floating cultivating islands.
Tourists buy items from vendors on Inlay Lake, a major tourist attraction which is recognized as an Asean heritage site. Photo: Mizzima‘Water quality in the lake is being degraded’, he said. ‘The use of chemical fertilizers in tomato cultivation on the floating islands causes pollution and degrades water quality. But it has not yet reached a dangerous level. If we do not contain and control this issue in time, it will reach dangerous toxin level within next five years’, he said.

The government has established a supervisory committee for conservation of the lake but it can only be successful if all ministries work together, U Ohn said.

‘The vice president should coordinate all the government departments and ministries for the success of this effort. Not only one or two ministries, but all governmental departments should be placed under the control of the vice president for the task of conservation of Inlay Lake’, he said. He said the forest, agriculture and irrigation, fishery, hotel and travel departments should all work in tandem on the effort.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 28 June 2011 11:41 )  

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