Locals concerned over dead fish in Myanmar's Hpa-an lakes after chief minister's safety assurances

NAYPYITAW (Eleven Media Group/ANN) - Local people have expressed their concern about fish deaths from some ponds and lakes in Hpa-an Township, Kayin State, although the state chief minister herself had drunk water from those sources proving to be safe. 

Kayin State Chief Minister Nan Khin Htwe Myint, cabinet members and departmental officials met with local residents in Barkat, Yathepyan, Pangon, Nganetpya and Yedwingon village-tracts following the reports that the water colour of some lakes in those village-tracts is turning to black. 

The chief minister said she understood the concern of the local people but it was safe to drink as the pH level is up to 6.9 according to a study from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). She then drank water from those lakes in front of the local people. 

Fish deaths occurred two days after the chief minister's visit, said Barkat Village administrator San Thwe. 

"People here say that fish were found dead. After the water colour of this lake has changed, everyone who bathes in it feels itchy. The chief minister came here saying there was no toxic. But no one dares to use this water as its goes unnatural. The chief minister asked them to use the water, but they daren't," said the village administrator. 

Fish deaths have been seen since October 14, local people say. 

They say that a coal-fired cement plant that can produce about 4,000 tons of cement is located near their villages. The water colour has turned into black as waste from the cement plant flows into the village lakes and ponds. 

Some locals say that even the water from village wells have turned into black. 

During the chief minister's visit to those villages, bottled water and water purification tablets were distributed while Kayin State Police Fore also donated drinking water from a 3,000-gallon bowser.