News / Asia

Tourism, Development Threaten Burmese Lake

Tourism, Development Threaten Burmese Lakei
X
April 23, 2013 12:55 AM
As Asia’s newest tourist hotspot, Burma is experiencing a surge in foreigners eager to visit places that were closed-off for decades. But the spike in tourists and growth of new industries are taking an environmental toll. Rapid development is straining an already damaged ecosystem in Burma’s scenic Inle Lake. Steve Sanford reports for VOA.
As Asia’s newest tourist hotspot, Burma is experiencing a surge in foreigners eager to visit places that were closed-off for decades. But the spike in tourists and growth of new industries are taking an environmental toll. Rapid development is straining an already damaged ecosystem in Burma’s scenic Inle Lake.

Inle Lake is considered a jewel of Burma, where migrating birds, rare animal species and a handful of Burmese tribes share space around the 110 square kilometer freshwater reservoir.

Now, a steady stream of foreign tourists is arriving. And, although that means big business for some, many locals say they are losing out.

Floating tomato gardens are the primary cash crop in this area, comprising more than 60 percent of the local agriculture.

Farmer Mee Intara says he welcomes foreign visitors, but not the increased traffic.

“The constant waves from the increase in motorboats are destroying my crops on the lake," said Intara.

Adding to the problem; diesel fuel from the boats, mixed with excessive amounts of pesticides already used by the farmers, are threatening drinking supplies.

Khin Moe Khao says his family and others living on the lake’s islands say they now must fetch clean water from elsewhere.

“The people who have motor boats can go to get drinking water easily, but some of the villagers only have row boats and cannot get to the water supply so they get sick from drinking dirty water," said Khao.

As unregulated development and business moves forward, local environmentalists are also worried about an even bigger potential environmental disaster - runoff from a coal mine.

Khun Chankhe, an environmentalist with the Pa-Oh Youth Organization, says that waste from an open pit coal mine, 13 kilometers away, is ending up in Inle Lake’s watershed, making matters worse.

“Most of the people in the villages rely on the upper Tigyit Creek use the water for their bathing and drinking and travel, so it is very dangerous for them because of the water pollution from the mining. This also affects Inle Lake," said Chankhe.

As tourism and development continue unabated, Burma’s second-largest freshwater lake - and the people that live on it - stand to lose much more.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid