A growing problem – Industrial pollution in Myamar (by Kay Khine Myint, Ministry of Industry)
Myanmar is developing its industries at a fast pace and new industries are being established with local and foreign investment. Now over 40,000 private industries are running in the country which is working in a variety of sectors such as food and beverages factories, distillation plants, garments, textile factories, paper mills, oil mills, rubber factories, canning factories, vermicelli & noodle factories, painting factories.
With the assistance of the government, 19 industrial zones and 3 special economic zones have emerged across the nation. But industrial developments have multiplied hazards to which human and the environment are being exposed. Air and water pollution are serious problems for the public and environment by the industries. The water used in various industrial processes comes in contact with toxic chemicals, heavy metals, organic sludge. So, when such polluted water is thrown into the ocean or other water bodies without any treatment, they become unfit for any human and agricultural use.
In my study, I focuss on understanding underlying causes for industrial pollution. One of my questions is to see to what extent monitoring can contribute to reducing the pollutants entering the water. I focus my study on an industrial zone located in the western part of Yangon, called Hlaingthayar. Hlaingtharyar industrial zone is one of the largest industrial parks in the country, lying on the banks of the of the Hlaing River. Hlaing River has a length of about 48 km and connects the Ayeyarwady river upstream and links to the Andaman sea after a stretch of about 30 km in the Yangon river.
Industrial water pollution is being caused by the discharge of harmful chemicals and compounds into water such as nitrate, potassium, arsenic, iron which makes it unsuitable for drinking and other purposes. Industrial water pollution can have far reaching effects on the ecosystem. Strict pollution control policies are lacking in many countries of the world, especially in the developing and underdeveloped countries. In Myanmar, policies are there, but the apathy of the enforcement authorities has allowed industries to take such laws for granted and bypass them easily.
The Myanmar government, through its relative departments, is trying to reduce the industrial water pollution. Special inspections of polluting industries were undertaken by Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) between 2012 and 2014 and again between 2015 and 2017. But the Committee discovered that many industries were disobeying regulations. The Directorate of Industrial Supervision and Inspection (DISI) also inspect 3 factories per month with the guideline of the water and air control plan [Standing Order No(3)]. Research has shown that industrial water in Myanmar is often not treated adequately before discharging it into rivers or lakes.
When asked about the regulations and its enforcement on the industrise, authorities said “Industrial law is being drafted now.’’
One challenge faced is that some industries still rely on old and outdated technologies that produce a greater amount of pollutants compared to modern, cleaner technologies. Industries basically try to avoid the high cost of modern or sophisticated technologies by using outdated technologies, although these are known to be less efficient than modern technologies.
The noodle factory owner in Hlaingtharyar industrial zone, Ko Pyaing, when asked why they were polluting, said that the cost of being environmentally friendly is too “capital intensive and problematic for land use for small scale industries.’’
Another challenge is linked to the (absence of) planning and zoning of industrial activities. Unplanned industrial growth contributes to water pollution. Though industrial growth boosts the economy of a country, it can degrade the environment, especially when it is unplanned. Lack of proper waste disposal sites, and a total disregard for pollution control laws are some negative consequences of unplanned industrial growth.
“Previous industrial zones didn’t have Common Treatment Plants. Now SEZ (Special Economic Zones) include a Common Treatment Plant,” according to the Environmental Conservation Department (ECD).
“The department controls the Environmental Conservation laws and guidelines,” says U Myo Win, the director of the ECD. ” We inspect the factories and issue a 6 month period during which factories that do not obey the laws and regulation can comply. If they don’t do it, I close the factory.”
Though industrial water pollution is difficult to contain, it is not impossible. A greater awareness needs to be created among the common mass about how water gets polluted, its effects on human health and marine life, and how it can be prevented. It is not possible to reduce water pollution without public cooperation, and cooperation of industrial units.
YCDC, U Hla Kyaing said “they cooperate with JICA.’’ ECD said “they arrange the public awareness.” DISI said “they give the technology advice the people need.”
Strict pollution control laws and legislation, and their effective implementation do have an important role in controlling any kind of pollution. The development of affordable pollution control equipment, and incentives from government for installing such equipment can encourage industries to take up pollution control seriously.
The levels of BOD, COD, Chloride and hard water are highest in summer and winter. During the wet season the levels were standard for waste water. The result of the Arsenic is too high. But if the people don’t drink the water, not need to worry. The water including BOD, Hardness and Chloride flow into the Hlaing river and any other places.
Therefore, mineral salt from aquatic creatures and life change, the plants are poisoned by an excess in salt minerals, aquatic creatures perish due to reduced oxygen because of the value of BOD is high and the use of the industrial business can affect.
Today it is necessary to install waste water treatment in the industrial zones in order to assure proper water quality standards and overall environmental quality.