CUU LONG DELTA — Relentless river-bank erosion in many places in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta have damaged property and disrupted people's lives, local reports say.
Along the Tien and Hau rivers, the two major tributaries of the Mekong River, many islands, roads and residential areas are being whittled down because of illegal sand mining.
An Giang now has 53 erosion spots along the Tien, Hau and Vam Nao rivers, 10 more than last year, according to the province's Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
Tran Thi Nam of Phu An Commune in the province's Phu Tan District said the flooding season was coming and people here were living in fear of river bank erosion and its impacts.
An Giang has had 10 instances of river-bank erosion this year that have forced hundreds of households to move to safer areas.
The scale of erosion has also become larger, with some spots reaching 100 metres in length and 50 metres deep, according to the An Giang Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
The 150km Highway National 91, which links An Giang with Can Tho City and is one of the region's most important roads, has suffered severe damage in recent years because of erosion along the Hau River, especially in Binh Duc Ward in An Giang's Long Xuyen City.
In Vinh Long, there are 18 erosion spots along the Tien and Hau rivers, according to the province's Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
Similarly, Dong Thap Province has more than 100 erosion spots along the Tien and Hau rivers and Can Tho City has 16 along the Hau River.
More than 10,000 households in the Delta are living in erosion prone areas and need to be relocated to safer areas, according to the Delta provinces' statistic.
However, a shortage of land, including in new residential areas, has made relocation difficult.
Meanwhile, local authorities are still struggling to find measures to prevent erosion.
The An Giang Department of Natural Resources and Environment has, in co-operation with other agencies, discovered nearly 250 cases of illegal sand mining so far this year and levied administrative fines of VND 1.3 billion (US$60,000).
However, the province has not been able to control illegal sand mining effectively.
Roan Ngoc Chien, director of the Vinh Long Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said his office would petition the provincial People's Committee to temporarily stop permitting sand mining in areas where erosion has become a problem.
Nguyen Minh The, deputy director of the Can Tho Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said his department plans to establish zones where sand mining will be banned. — VNS