Nearly 170 Houses Relocated As Irrawaddy River Bank Erodes

By Salai Thant Zin 20 April 2017

ZALUN, Irrawaddy Division — Nearly 170 houses and a high school have been relocated in two villages in Zalun Township because of erosion to the banks of the Irrawaddy River.

A total of 126 houses and a high school in Gone Nyin Tan village and 43 houses in Atut village have been moved, said the township’s administrator, U Kyaw Naing Tun.

“The banks have been steadily eroded by the river since the last rainy season,” he told The Irrawaddy.

People who were forced out of their homes are staying at their relatives’ houses or at makeshift tents in paddy fields. The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement stated it has provided cash and supplies for the victims.

U Kyaw Naing Tun said he had instructed authorities to find suitable land for the resettlement of victims, adding he would ask the divisional government for financial help.

Locals in several nearby villages have also reported bank erosion, caused by a change in the course of the Irrawaddy River.

“The erosion was slow before, but this week the bank eroded rapidly day and night,” said U Tin Aye, the administrator of Thadu Chaung village-tract. “Part of the bank about 700 feet long disappeared in Gone Nyin Tan.

“As it happened so fast, we had to remove and relocate the houses quickly. Almost half of the village is gone now.”

“We are building an embankment to prevent erosion,” said U Hla Moe, the director of the Irrawaddy Division Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems.

“We’ve presented our plans to the divisional government to prevent further erosion within the budget of this and the next fiscal year.”

Locals said, however, that building embankments would not stop the erosion and only diverting the course of the river would help solve it.