PROME, Bago Region — Residents of Pauk Khaung Township in western Bago Region are in a state of panic after cracks appeared in a local reservoir and authorities began releasing water.
Cracks stretching 35 feet long and 3 feet wide appeared in the embankment of the Taung Na Win reservoir after four earthquakes struck near the township since November or December. The embankment has also lost about 100 feet of its height.
The reservoir lies about 3.2 km east of the township.
Geologists and officials with the Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Ministry’s Irrigation Department are examining the reservoir. Before they can draw any conclusion, water will have to be released daily to reduce the water level, said U Zaw Oo, assistant director of the Pyay District Irrigation and Water Utilization Department.
“The conduit of the reservoir can release 960 cubic feet of water per second, and currently we are releasing only 50 percent of its capacity,” he told The Irrawaddy.
The Irrigation Department has been monitoring the condition of the reservoir since Jan. 13 and found no further risk, the department’s deputy staff officer, U Zaw Wunna, said. Technicians have also been conducting a geological survey to test the strength of the earth, he added.
“Only after we have the results of the geological survey will we know what to do next in response,” U Zaw Oo said.
Lawmakers representing the township, the General Administration Department and the Irrigation Department informed villages downstream of the reservoir about its condition earlier this week.
“Local residents called for reducing the water in the reservoir and repairing it promptly,” said township administrator U Kyaw Htay.
Villagers have also been evacuating their homes for fear of a possible flood.
“People are in fear and some are evacuating. Some are sleeping on nearby hills. We feel safer with less water in the reservoir,” U Thein Win, a resident of Watt Toe Village, told The Irrawaddy.
The reservoir was built in 1985 at a cost of 1.4 billion kyats under the Burma Socialist Program Party regime with development loans from Japan and put into service in 1995. With a storage capacity of 287,000 acre-feet of water, it can irrigate about 10,000 acres, but currently holds only about 220,000 acre-feet.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.