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Water Runs Red in Chipwi

Chipwi stream in red in Chipwi township in Kachin State, northern Burma. Photo: Zawng Dai

The water in a stream in Kachin State’s Chipwi Township has changed in color in recent days, with locals speculating that it could be due to the disposal of mining waste upstream.

Villagers from the community of Lupi said that the Zung Lung Hka has been red since December 6 and that they have never seen the phenomenon occur before.

“We are afraid to touch the water because it has turned completely red. It looks like blood flowing in the stream,” Chipwi local Zawng Dai told KNG. “We want the government and respective officials to know about the color changes to the water in the stream. We want the government to make this water clean because we use this water.”

Metal extraction is occurring upstream, which Zawng Dai said he does not oppose outright as long as it does not pollute the water supply.

“Please, don’t damage this water,” he said.

KNG spoke with Sai Nyunt, a temporary administrator in Chipwi Township, who said that officials are looking into the problem.

“We are still investigating it and trying to find the root causes. We still don’t know whether it is concerned with an official or unofficial reservoir,” he explained.

Government representatives from Naypyidaw came to the Zung Lung Hka at the end of August and told locals that the water was clean. However, villagers point out that the water was not red at that time.

The Zung Lung Hka flows into the N’Mai Hka, which is a major tributary of the Irrawaddy River.

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