Residents of Indawgyi Lake fear that gold mining along the Nam Yinn Hka River, which flows into the lake, will pollute the waters they rely on for their drinking water and to cultivate their crops in Mohnyin Township in Kachin State.
A local who agreed to speak with KNG on condition of anonymity said the mining companies are operating about 20 miles upstream of the lake, which until now has remained relatively unpolluted. “At the movement, muddy water has started entering the lake. If the gold mining continues in the area, I’m sure the water will become more dirty with mud saturating the lake and damaging it.”
Locals told KNG for the last two months at least 40 miners have working in the area using 20 backhoes to dig up the the riverbank.
“Some of them are from here, others live in other areas,” said another man who also asked that his name remain confidential. He explained that some of the miners used to work near western Mong Nawng, but they had to leave the area after the military tried to arrest them.
Last August, the military seized 50 backhoes and trucks from illegal mines in Mamong Kai, western Mong Nawng and Loung Tong around Indawgyi Lake.
Before the coup, Indawgyi, one of the largest inland lakes in Southeast Asia, stretching 8 miles from east to west and 15 miles from north to south, was a popular tourist attraction. The famous Shwe Myinzu Pagoda sits in the middle of it. There are 36 villages around the lake, mostly inhabited by ethnic Kachin and Shan people whose main livelihood is agriculture.