Every tourist visiting our country, Burma (Myanmar), will have at least had the experience of admiring our majestic river, the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwaddy). The major tourist attractions like the ancient city of Bagan and the 2nd largest town of the country, Mandalay, and Mingun, which houses the third largest bell in the world, are located on the banks of the Irrawaddy. Everyone, both tourists and locals, enjoys the breath-taking sunset on the Irrawaddy from the ruins of Bagan while some nature lovers enjoy a boat trip along it.
The Irrawaddy is not only full of nature’s beauty but also home to the dolphins which received their name from it – Irrawaddy Dolphins. These adorable creatures are one of the endangered species of the world and are only found in Southeast Asia. Our country is one of the countries that has these dolphins.
According to researchers, there were over a hundred of them before, but now there are only about 50 left. This is because of the toxic mercury discharged from the gold mines located on the banks of the Irrawaddy, which are littering the mercury wastes into the river after using it to purify the gold.
These gold mines are not the only problem for the Irrawaddy and its dolphins. Now a huge dam is coming, named Myitsone Dam, a project led by the government and to be built by Chinese companies at the confluence of May Kha and Malikha, where the Irrawaddy originates.
After the dam is finished, China will get hydroelectricity from it. Will we get any profits from it? Surely not. There are no profits for the locals or for the country. Every profit and benefit gained from this dam will go only into the pockets of China and the generals.
According to environmentalists, the dam will disturb the flow of the Irrawaddy, which may in the near future badly affect the delta region where 60% of the rice for the country is grown. It will also affect the inhabitants of the river, and will bury the area under water.
Despite the suggestions, complaints and condemnations from researchers and environmentalists, the government has firmly decided to continue the dam and claims there will be no bad consequences, but the nation’s benefit.
The destruction of nature in the project area has already happened. The confluence of the river, which used to have a pleasant scenic view with clear water and shining white pebbles, is now destroyed by the muddy, dirty water and has turned into an unpleasant site to go to. The locals of the areas have been relocated too, with no compensation.
We want to ask China: Why are you so eager to build this dam and want the hydropower from the Irrawaddy? Why don’t you think about the future of our country? Why this dam on our river, not on China’s rivers? Why can’t we get benefits from this, but why has China gotten every profit and benefit from this? Why wouldn’t someone put on our shoes, themselves? Why?
This river is not only a natural treasure for tourism, but also the heart of our country. Without this river, our flora and fauna will be destroyed, our dolphins will die, our delta – our rice bowl – will dry up.
We don’t want the dam which is nothing good for us but natural disaster. We don’t want our river to be dying like the Yellow River. We don’t want our Irrawaddy Dolphins to be extinct like the Yangtze dolphins.
Save our river, our heart. Save our dolphins, save our flora and fauna. Save our river, save our rice bowl, save our lives. Save our nature, save our future, save our generations.
photo: immuSave Our River, Save Our Dolphins, Save Our Nature,