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Yangon factories told to treat water or else

The government warned factories to treat their wastewater properly before disposing it into rivers or face penalties, including closure of their facilities.

In Yangon Region’s 24 industrial zones alone, there are 3474 factories but only 188 have proper wastewater treatment facility, said U Saw Win Maung, deputy head of Pollution Control and Cleaning Department (PCCD) under Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC).

U Saw Win Maung said that since most factories disposed their wastewater in creeks and rivers many of these water channels including the Yangon River, Hlaing River, Pun Hlaing River, Bago River and Nga Moe Yeik Creek, are becoming very polluted.

“There are only 10 percent of the factories which have proper wastewater treatment facilities,” he said, adding that the government has taken action against distilleries, which have high volume of wastewater.

There are total of 72 distilleries around the country and out of 16 distilleries located in Yangon Region, 14 have been closed temporarily for not have wastewater treatment facility, according to PCCD’s statistics.

U Sein Thaung Oo, deputy chairman of Myanmar Food Processors and Exporters Association, said that if the government intensifies its campaign against erring distilleries, 94pc of these facilities could be closed down because of lack of water treatment facilities.

“All distilleries do not have wastewater treatment system. Now, the distilleries which have been closed are the worst among them,” he said.

U Sein Thaung Oo said that while the government has focused on distilleries in its campaign to require wastewater treatment facilities in factories, other sectors in the manufacturing industry will also be required to follow suit.

“We want to ensure all manufacturing centres also have wastewater treatment facilities. Other kinds of factories will be included in this measures too,” he said.

U Thein Lin, production manager of Win Brothers Holdings Myanmar, which operates several distilleries in the country, said the government should crackdown on illegal distilleries that are currently operating without permits.

“We obtained permit to run our distillery. But it cost a lot. The illegally-run distilleries do not need to pay taxes, so they do not have much cost,” he said adding that alcohol prices are falling because of competition, including from illegal distilleries. So, legally distilleries are not making much profit anymore.

Dr Kyaw Nyein Aye, visiting professor of Yangon Technology University, environmental management specialist and researcher of waste water from industrial zones, said the environment must not be sacrificed in pursuit of profits.
He warned that untreated waste water can adversely affect marine lives and plants, and also cause respiratory diseases.

Dr Kyaw Nyein Aye noted that once the untreated wastewater began yeasting, it produces a fermented liquid which emit a very foul smell.

“If it drops into water, the fish cannot stay (alive),” he said.

“Manufacturing industries like distilleries are present not only in Myanmar but all over the world. Something is wrong if only the businessmen are profiting and people are suffering” he added.

Myanmar has drawn wastewater related laws and rules under the Environmental Conservation Law in 2012, Environmental Conservation Rules in 2014, Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure and Environmental Quality (emission) in 2015.

But these laws and rules have not been effectively implemented, according to Permanent Secretary U Khin Maung Yi.

“The standards released in 2015 meet international standard. If they are amended (to accommodate the business sector,) the environment can be affected,” he said.

In the country’s pursuit to develop its industries, environmental protection must also be part of the economic development, said U Thein Lin, a chemical engineer.

“If economic development is pursued without considering the damages to the environment and ecosystem, our water, atmosphere and the soil can be affected,” he said.

He said that disposal of untreated wastewater from industries are threatening the state’s sustainable development.

“Wastewater is very dangerous and it should be controlled. It will leave behind a spoilt environment for next generation. Inspection has its shortcomings. Monitoring team should be formed with technicians from factories and other experts from various fields,” U Thein Lin said.

Source : Myanmar Times

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