Shweli River Runs Red, Alarming Locals

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The water of the Shweli River separating China and Shan State has turned red in color, raising concern among locals about the level of pollution in the waterway.

Shweli River Change red
Shweli River Change red

Locals in the border town of Muse suspect that the changing color is due to factory waste from China being dumped in the river.

“I think a factory in China dumped polluted water into the river. We have already sent an opposition letter to China’s external affairs department in Shweli (Ruili) city in Yunnan Province,” state parliamentarian for Muse’s Constituency 2 Sai Kyaw Thein told SHAN. “We continue to investigate why the water’s color has turned to red,” he added.

Locals first noticed the change on June 10.

“We already sent a water sample from the Shweli River to a laboratory in Mandalay,” Sai Kyaw Thein said.  

There are many factories located on the upper part of Shweli River in China, including those processing sugar, making paper, canning fish and meat. There are also a number of dams, and substantial deforestation along the river.

“We have never seen water color changes like this before. This is the first time I have ever seen the water red. I don’t know what China has done,” Sai Aye, who lives in Taw Ywad ward on the banks of the river in Muse, told SHAN.

People in nearby Namkham Township say they are also worried about the implications of the pollution.

“I think we need to investigate why the water has turned red. It may impact people who are working near the river,” a Namkham local told SHAN.

People in Muse have demanded that the government investigate and resolve the issue as soon as possible.

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