New Delhi (Mizzima) – Burma’s coral reefs and fishery industry near Kyaukphyu in Arakan State are being damaged by dynamiting to create a gas pipeline route, according to the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party (RNDP).
A pipeline to transport oil and natural gas from Kyaukphyu to Yunnan Province in China is now under construction as a joint Burma-China project. The coral reefs were identified as the Ohnkhaungpaunglel and the Natkyauktan reefs, located about three miles north of Kyaukphyu. Each reef is more than one mile long.
'The residents rely on fishing for a living. If marine creatures are killed, the residents will not be able to catch fish', Ba Shein, a RNDP lawmaker for Kyaukphyu Township, told Mizzima.
A woman in Konechain Village near the Ohnkhaungpaunglel coral reef said, ‘I saw two vessels that were shoveling sand and rocks. The places where they could not shovel, they dynamited’. She estimated that about one-third of the reefs have been damaged.
Wong Aung, one of the organizers of the Shwe Gas Campaign, a nongovernmental group, warned that if there is no coral reef, large waves from the Bay of Bengal could harm the villages and could seriously erode the shore.
The gas pipeline, scheduled to be completed in 2013, will transport oil and natural gas from Daewoo International Corporation’s offshore gas fields and oil from the Middle East to China. At a length of 771 km, it will pass through Arakan State, Magway Region, Mandalay Region and Shan State.
The section of the pipeline from the offshore field to Kyaukphyu is about 30 miles long and the authorities are expected to place restrictions on fishing in the area for security reasons, Ba Shein said.
‘Our party will bring up this issue in Parliament when we a get chance’, he said. “We will also appeal to the authorities at the relevant ministries’. The next session of Parliament is expected to be in early 2012, say observers.