HCM CITY — HCM City plans to build 27 automatic and 227 semiautomatic observation stations over the next five years to check on water surface, underground water and air pollution.
Total funds needed will be VNĐ495 billion (US$22.2 million).
Environmental quality control must ensure 14 norms, according to deputy director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyễn Văn Phước, who spoke at a recent meeting with the city’s People’s Council.
Infrastructure limitations have caused the city to focus on four norms covering water surface, underground water, exhaust emissions and environmental quality around waste treatment sites.
They have basically met minimum requirements except exhaust treatment.
Nguyễn Thị Hồng, former vice-chairwoman of HCM City’s People’s Committee, said last year the city allocated VNĐ15 billion ($672,900) to improve observations stations in the city.
This year the city plans to allocate VNĐ28 billion ($1.25 million) for these activities.
The Environment Protection Division under the Department of Natural Resources and Environment will develop projects to build an observation system at export processing zones and high-tech parks in the city.
Hồng also said the city has enough funding for observation systems, and there was no need to call on various sectors to invest in the system.
Nine automatic observation stations which received help in construction from the Norwegian and Danish Governments in 2003-2012, are in disrepair.
Since 2012, HCM City has used semiautomatic observation systems at 15 spots.
However, they have operated from 8-9am and 3-4pm every day, which is unsuitable as trucks are only permitted to travel in the city after these times.
The chairwoman of the People’s Council Nguyễn Thị Quyết Tâm proposed that the People’s Committee immediately take actions to minimise environmental pollution.
This month, the department should submit to the council a plan to replace destroyed stations and short- and long-term investment plans in the observation system, she added.
HCM City is among the top 10 cities worldwide worst affected by air pollution.
Pollution caused by dust, exhaust fumes and noise in HCM City has not declined and is reaching alarming levels, according to a recent survey on the city’s air quality.
The pollution caused by dust and noise has continued to rise.
Dust from construction sites has also contributed greatly to worsening air pollution in the city, home to more than 9 million people.
The leading factor in air pollution is exhaust fumes released by the increasing number of vehicles on the city’s roads and the discharge of untreated smoke from production units.
A survey found that air pollution was increasing in HCM City, with a high rate of carbon monoxide and dust in the air.
A Government report showed that 40.5 per cent of examined dust samples and 92.5 per cent of examined noise samples from observation stations at 10 traffic spots exceeded the acceptable maximum levels and were even bordering on a dangerous level.
The most serious air pollution is mainly found near An Sương intersection in District 12 and in Gò Vấp District.
The findings were based on a semiautomatic observation system that evaluates pollution, including dust, lead, noise, carbon oxide and nitrogen oxide.
The city has not been able to estimate the air quality since 2010 because the automatic observation system was in disrepair. This why the city uses manual or semiautomatic observation devices to measure air pollution.
The city’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment has proposed many measures to upgrade the system, but none of them has been carried out so far.
Experts said without an automatic observation system, it was difficult to evaluate the overall situation of air pollution as well as forecast pollution trends in the near future.
The city’s Nhi Đồng (Children’s) Hospital 1 said the number of children hospitalised for respiratory diseases, ear infections, asthma and congenital malformations has increased by large numbers each year.
Health experts and environmentalists are sounding the alert on the level of dust and carbon oxide concentration in the air, which has exceeded the acceptable maximum level.
The city urgently needs to improve the automatic observation system to measure air pollution more precisely. This would help it develop more effective solutions to controlling pollution. — VNS