BAC KAN (VNS)— Until the sand ran out, Illegal mining operations along the Cau River, especially in mountainous Bac Kan Province, continued day and night despite an outcry from the media and residents.
The shocking legacy is that once-rich riverside paddy fields are now full of vast holes with bedrock at the bottom.
There were once numerous sand depots along the river's banks in Khuoi Heo, Tong Neng, Na Pam and Khuoi Mat wards.
Today in Tong Neng, an idle sand-mining dredge can be seen sitting in the middle of the river after denuding the banks of sand deposits, according to Hoang Van Mau, a Tong Neng local.
Farmers said riverside fields were once highly fertile, growing corn, potatoes and many other types of vegetables.
Some farmers, for short-term profit, rented their rice paddies to sand miners only to receive barren, wasted land once the sand was removed..
Landslides have been much more frequent along the river since the illegal miners moved in and altered the flow of the river.
Mau said his family and his neighbours lost two rice paddies that were almost ready for harvest.
"Sand trucks even destroyed parts of the concrete road in the area. The road was degraded so badly it became unusable when it rained," said Hoang Thi Xuan, a senior citizen in Khuoi Heo.
Residents filed many complaints about the environmental damage while the mining was going on, but nothing was done.
"Local authorities issued fines and confiscated tools and machines many times, but a few smaller sites are still operating in secret," said Ha Duc Tuyen, chairman of the local People's Committee. — VNS