- By Shin Min
Thakhut River or Pathein River strecthes 27 miles from Yangon River to Toe River while passing through Kawhmu and Kungyangon townships.
Once carrying boats and ships along its flow, the shrunken river now flows only as far as Kama Kani Village in Kawhmu Township, 6.5 miles from Yangon River.
Eventually, the river was reduced to the size of a small canal on the outskirts of Kungyangon Township. It was prone to annual floods and the locals had to replant fields and were limited to growing hardy paddy that could survive being submerged. The floods destroyed a significant amount of crops and effectively reduced farmers’ income.
Motion to reform river, canals
Pyithu Hluttaw representative U Soe Thura Tun, MP for Kungyangon constituency, and Amyotha Hluttaw representative U Kyaw Htwe collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation to alleviate this issue plaguing farmers.
They petitioned for allocation of funds from the Union fund and State Goverment fund in 2016-2017 FY to dig up 6.2 miles of Thakhut River from Kawdun village to Kyarkat village and reform creeks and canals in Kungyangon Township.
Flood outbreaks reduced
The funds were allocated in the same financial year and work to dig up the old channels commenced. The channel was dug from Kawdun village to Myintaryar village and measured 6.2 miles long. This reduced flood occurrences in the west of Kungyangon.
Asked about the project, U Soe Thura Tun replied that the region’s main income was from its agriculture and aquaculture jobs. He said the local farmers had to deal with the floods for twenty years. He said he was moved to help them after seeing the difficulty they faced in their farms. He said everything was mostly resolved after the Union and State Government funds were approved.
Hope for higher crop yield
U Yi Win, a local farmer who tends to the fields between Nghat Gyi Taung village and Kawdun village, said digging up a portion of Thakhut River has significantly helped him and his fellow farmers.
“We have to work really hard to grow about fifty baskets worth of rice in one acre. The floods used to destroy about 300 out of 3,000 acres. But the floods have been reduced and this has made farming easier. They’ve dug up other sections this year so we can expect more crops to grow,” said U Yi Win.
Daw San San Aye from Kawdun village expressed her immense gratitude for digging up the diminished Thakhut River, as it bas significantly reduced floods for locals like her.
“I have to plant about 9 pyis of crop seeds in my 12-acre farm. Before they dug up the channels, I’d have to replant the seeds at least three times since the floods wiped them out. It cost me thrice as much and was a waste of time, money and labour,” said Daw San San Aye.
U Soe Thura Tun said while the flood problem has been taken care of, they will need to install a sluice gate to regulate the salinity of the river as directing freshwater into the fields will allow locals to grow summer crops.
The region is close to the sea and home to paddy fields so plenty, people describe its abundance with the allegory, “curry pot in the east, rice pot in the west”. The locals also take pride for the region being the birthplace of esteemed writer and poet Min Thu Wun.
In that regard, MPs have petitioned for funds to dig 5.3 miles from Bodin to Kawdun village in 2019-2020 FY and to install a sluice gate and expand the previously dug channel, in additon to digging up new ones, about 6.25 miles long.
Farmlands susceptible to damage
The section of Thakhut River from Bodin to Kamakani lies in Kawhmu Township and to dig up that channel will require relocating the houses, roads and farmlands that have settled in the dried up area. Furthermore, the influx of saltwater from Yangon River could damage crops.
When asked about the projects conducted to help the locals, the Assistant director for Yangon Southern Region Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department, U Wint Naing said they have also finished similar projects in Hlegu, Dagon Myothit, Htantapin, Hmawby, Taikkyi, Thanlyin, Kyauktan, Kayan, Thonekwa, Kawhmu, Kungyangon, Twantay and Dala townships within Yangon Region.
Municipal develops steadily
With the Union Government spearheading development and the Hluttaw representatives and public providing cooperation, Kungyangon Township has seen proper agricultural growth, paved concrete roads in its urban areas and better roads connecting its villages within the three years of civilian government administration.
(Translated by Pen Dali)