Monday, September 19, 2011

India's Port Threatens the Natural Beauty of Sittwe Beach

Sittwe: The port being constructed by Essar Projects Ltd in Sittwe, the capital of western Burma's Arakan State, threatens to ruin the natural beauty of the sea beach in the town as contractors have been digging out and removing sand from the beach to fill in land for construction of the port.

The sea beach is well known as the "Point", a popular natural public recreation area enjoyed by local residents and visitors to Sittwe.

Sand-festival-Arakan Sittwe ' Point' sea beach with a festival of sand sculpture competition in 2010
A resident from Sittwe who has been closely watching construction of the port, told Narinjara that the port's contractors have been digging and taking sand away from the main area of the beach without consideration for anything except for saving on their own construction costs.

"The contractors previously took sand from the seashore near Aung Dai and Thay Chaung Villages in Sittwe to fill in land at the proposed site of the port. As that seashore is a bit far from the port site and they are only thinking about saving costs on construction, they are now digging and taking away sand from the main area of the Point Beach that is closely situated to the port site," said the resident.

He said the contractors have been filling in land at the proposed site of the port on the bank of the Kaladan River near its main jetty, and noted that if they take away all the sand needed for landfill from the main area of the beach, the natural beauty of the beach would be ruined.

He added that the act of taking sand from the main area of the Point Beach was not officially allowed, but the port builders are taking it with the collusion of local authorities in an attempt to save costs, after more than half of their former landfill material was worn away by heavy rains and flash floods at the start of the rainy season this year.

The port that is being constructed by Essar, on which work began last year, is a major component of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project that was proposed by the Indian government under a framework agreement with the Burmese junta in 2008 in order to ease the movement of goods from mainland India to the land-locked northeastern states.

"We, the residents of Sittwe, are now worried that the natural beauty of our long-preserved beach will be ruined soon because of the port that will only profit India and the Burmese regime, and not the local Arakanese people," said the resident.
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