By Myint Soe (Natala)
It is my last year in office in 2018 as a civil servant as well as a record of water years for me. On behalf of my department, the Department of Progress of Border Areas and National Races, as well as for my brotherhood — the national races — I always had a chance to carry out water supplies or find water resources to provide purified drinking water to ethnic local people in border areas and to participate in water-supply related opening ceremonies in various places very often. I have enjoyed fully the ten benefits of offering water (as mentioned in Buddhist literature) this year.
Even though I could not afford to provide financial assistance, I worked on my duty and responsibility from my heart and soul for the welfare of the people through the proper channels. Whenever a project that I proposed materializes, I am elated. For instance, in July 2013, I went to Hopan, situated in the eastern bank of the Thanlwin River in the Wa Self-Administered Division, and I offered Waso robes for the 16th time to the Sangha who are doing their mission in the region.
Before our Union Minister and other responsible personnel arrived, I went ahead to the region to arrange necessary things for the trip. After preparations being done, I had only a little time left, so I proceeded to Panlon (then, Panglong Township) to meet our employees there. On my way, I witnessed that Panlon was facing water shortage. An acting high-ranking army officer took me to a place where water resources can be laid hold of. It was a water tank storage, guarded by armed security. There is no sufficient water in summer in that area and this is how they managed to distribute purified drinking water systematically from the storage.
He said the location of water resources is three miles away from the villages, and that we can ease the trouble of local people, especially in Panlon, if we could supply water from the border areas development fund. Due to water shortage, people in the town have been moving to other places, so the population has become less and less there. Thus, I wanted to carry out this scheme, from the bottom of my heart, because I have seen in person the suffering of my brotherhood. As soon as I returned to my office, I proposed the project to the then Union Minister for border affairs. The project was given green light, and it was carried out immediately. I have learned that Panlon is now enjoying sufficient drinking water so I’m really happy for hearing the good news. Ashin Janaka Bhivamsa, the well-known Venerable Mahagandhayon Sayadawgyi, has mentioned the ten benefits of offering water: longevity, beautiful, rich, strong, having sufficient knowledge, pure, cleansed, famous, obtaining numerous followers and unquenched. I am enjoying and experiencing these benefits without even wishing for them.
Carrying out tasks
From the emotional feelings of the previous years, I needed to actively perform the tasks that the ministry is implementing. These are in the form of lakes/ reservoirs (tanks) one hundred in number, in addition to wells one hundred in number.
In addition, I created a television programme dealing with this project, meaning I can enjoy the benefits of offering water forever. Let me tell you one recent event. Lt-Gen Ye Aung, Union Minister for Border Affairs, toured Pa-O and Danu Self-Administered zones to inspect the development work in those regions. He inspected the process of supplying water in southern Thayetkone village, three miles away from southern Pindaya. Danu is included in the drought areas and most of the villages rely on rain water. It is not sure whether water is available or whether artesian wells are being dug in that area or not.
Tender for water projects were ignored by private companies, so drinking water need to be fetched from Pansit water source, eleven miles far from Thayetkone village, where three hundred families have settled down.
Now, our department has built a water tank, and twenty-four tabs were set up so water is available even in front of the houses. In the past, during summer, they had to buy water at Ks500 per tank from Pindaya. Danu ethnic youths came to visit Nay Pyi Taw for an excursion trip and I visited their respective villages and witnessed how they were suffering from water shortage, so I reported the matter to the authorities at the ministry. In 2017-2018 Fiscal Year, funding was allocated to implement the project. As a result, the entire villages now own and enjoy oases in their respective places. Officials led by our Union Minister visited the region and on our way back, the crowd was waving their hands and shouting at us cheerfully. What I heard in the voices echoing to me is, ‘Thank you so much, Sirs.’ Whenever I visit their places now, they always greet me affectionately as, bhagyi (grandpa).
Before going to southern Thayetkone Village on 3 March, water distribution ceremony was held in Hsihseng Town, Pa-O Self-Administered Zone. It was attended by Mahn Win Khaing Than, the then Speaker of Amyotha Hluttaw, Lt-Gen. Ye Aung, Dr. Myo Thein Gyi, Union Minister for Education, Dr. Lin Htut, Shan State Chief Minister, U Soe Aung, Deputy Minister, responsible persons from Japanese Embassy, PTA organizations, departmental heads and local people. Purified drinking water could now be distributed to the town and four villages nearby as well as 390 acres of cultivation can be supplied. I have written about it in one of my previous articles.
Another project at Panpet village in Dimawhso Township, Kayah State, conducted by the Ministry of Border Affairs will be opened sooner or later. Purified drinking water is scarcer than gold in those places because people have been suffering for life on account of it. Artesian wells cannot be easily dug, because there is no water resource even 800 feet deep below. U Henry Van Thio, Vice-President, Chairman of National Water Resources Committee toured Kayah State on 4 October 2016 and gave instructions to the Ministry of Border Affairs. The ministry implemented the tasks, joining hands together with the local people, and they found water resources 100 feet below from a cave near Lwikathi Village. Departments were successful in carrying out from afar the tasks of bringing purified drinking water to the villages step by step.
Thus, through Lwikathi water source many villages, such as Cheerykon, Cheery peak, Lainsaungday, Parekku, Pawku,Shwunku peak, Shwunku, Lower Shwunku, Dawkey, Chaw-day, Taingyintharkon, Panpetjunction, Saunglukanar new and old,Pinmasaung, including Kathanku village situated in border area of Shan-Kayah States 11 miles afar, have their thirst quenched. Seventeen villages benefited from this project. The ministry has been carrying out survey, infrastructure, and people have campaigned for acquiring sufficient drinking water for our ethnic brotherhood. The results were: 142 tanks, 343 collected water tanks, 29 wells, 35 manual artesian wells, 59 auto artesian wells, 2 hydro power and 414 natural water resources.
Purified drinking water is more precious than gold for our ethnic brotherhood due to water shortage in those respective places. What they really want is not gold but purified drinking water. They have now owned more precious treasure than gold. What does the State receive from them in return? Through spreading loving-kindness, the State received back family spirit, Union spirit, the fragrance of brotherhood from their heart. The local people will always keep the gratitude of the State at the core of their hearts. Socio-economic development indeed creates strong and concrete Union spirit among our ethnic brotherhood.
Translated by Dr. Nyan Tun