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Poison kills ancient street trees

Update: August, 14/2012 - 10:42

 

Trees have been planted along a street in HCM City's District 5. Many ancient trees in the city are dying possibly from poisons, according to authorities. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Phan
HCM CITY — Several trees hundreds of years old in downtown HCM City are dying, possibly from poisons, but authorities are yet to take any action.

Concerned agencies are currently engaged in passing the buck, a Tuoi Tre (The Youth) report said yesterday.

They have found evidence of foul play, but say they can only report the matter for appropriate agencies to follow up.

On Tran Quang Dieu Street, Ward 14, District 3, just one tree in front of the house number 144 has died, while others are still green, arousing suspicions.

Doan Bao Long, director of the Green Tree 1 Enterprise under the HCM City Green Tree and Park Company, identified the dead tree as cay dau (dipterocarpus alatus), about 100 years old. It was a rare tree, he said.

"We have taken special care of it since we found its leaves withered, but it died fast. There are signs that chemicals were used to kill it."

The Tuoi Tre report said an unnamed resident living opposite the dead tree had seen a green liquid running from the foot of the tree to the nearby drain.

It also said an expert from the company had found a strong smell of chemicals while inspecting the tree.

Recently, an employee of the Green Tree 2 Enterprise found two dead cay dau in front of 215 Le Hong Phong Street (District 5) and 326 Le Hong Phong Street (District 10).

A botanist with the company said, "Trees that die due naturally usually have branches and leaves wither over a long time.

"It is extraordinary that these trees died suddenly."

Apart from pouring chemicals at the tree's foot, the Green Tree 1 Enterprise last month found another method deployed to kill trees.

When it inspected two cay long nao (cinnamomum camphora) in front of 213 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, Ward 7, District 3, that had withered suddenly, it found many one-centimetre-diameter holes drilled into the trunks. Inside the holes was a bright yellow chemical.

"I touched the chemical when checking and then by accident, wiped sweat away from my face. The chemical caused a burning pain," said one employee.

The company has changed the soil around the foot of the tree and watered it regularly, but it looks as though the trees might not recover.

In recent months, the HCM City Green Tree and Park Company has found over 50 trees that have been cut down, poisoned or had their branches cut.

A senior company official said they were tasked with caring for the trees and had no authority to take further action on these violations.

It has informed the traffic management boards of these violations and the board has reported them to the city's Department of Transport.

However, Nguyen Bat Han, deputy chief inspector of the municipal Transport Department, said though the department is the agency tasked with managing the trees, the competence to take punitive action belonged to the Construction Department.

For their part, officials of the Construction Department told Tuoi tre they have not received any report on the poisoning of trees so far.

The newspaper report speculated that companies hired to cut and remove dead trees could be behind the violations and should be investigated by authorised agencies.

HCM City has about 5,500 ancient trees left, the newspaper said. — VNS

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