Dead Fish Raise Concerns of Contaminated Water in Waingmaw

Dead Fish Raise Concerns of Contaminated Water in Waingmaw
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Locals say they are alarmed by the unusual number and variety of dead fish in the Nam Myin Hka creek near a tissue culture banana plantation in Kachin State’s Waingmaw Township.

Located two miles from the China-backed 100-acre banana plantation in Aung Myay 2 village, the dead fish first came to the villagers’ attention on February 10, and they speculated that it was due to runoff containing pesticide.

dead-fish-with-three-leaves-in-Nam-Myin-stream.jpgPhoto of Feb. 16, 2019 shows dead fishes with tree leaves in Nam Myin stream, Aung May Thit village, Waingmaw township, Kachin State

Villagers signed a three-year contract with the agriculture companies, but maintain that they were uninformed about what the land would be used for.

“We didn’t agree to grow Chinese tissue culture banana plants,” resident Lagwi Ting Ying told KNG. “What we had thought was that they were going to grow cassava and watermelons. Later, we didn’t complain about it.”

Locals from the villages of Aung Myay 1 and Aung Myay 2 use the water from the Nam Myin Hka creek for their own agriculture and take their livestock—including goats and cattle—to the creek’s edge to drink. They are now demanding that the respective authorities clean the water source as soon as possible.

“We want to have clean water in the creek. We want the government to clear the creek,” La Sheng Ban Lat, who lives in Aung Myay 2 village, told KNG.

Chinese-culture-banana-field-in-Aung-May-Thit.jpgPhoto of Feb. 16, 2019 shows Chinese tissue culture bananas in Aung May Thit village, Waingmaw township, Kachin State

Villagers are also concerned that the current plantation could expand to 500 acres.

On February 7, the Kachin State-based Land Security and Environmental Conservation Network reported that there are at least 150,000 acres of farmland dedicated Chinese tissue culture bananas in Waingmaw Township, significantly higher than previous estimates. The group also reported that chemical pesticides were damaging livestock grazing areas and the environment around the plantations.

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