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Trees cut, path built illegally near waterfall

Update: November, 11/2016 - 17:35
The destruction of natural habitat at Cột Đá waterfall as a result of illegal exploitation and encroachment. – VNA/VNS Photo Hưng Thịnh
Viet Nam News

ĐẮK NÔNG – Trees near Cột Đá waterfall, a tourism spot in the Central Highlands province of Đắk Nông, have been cut down illegally, ruining the scenic beauty, local residents and a company previously licenced to build a resort nearby have alleged.

Nguyễn Văn Trân, director of Trade and Tourism Southern Highlands Ltd. Company, whose licence to build a waterfall tourist resort was revoked in January, said he had reported the matter to Đắk Nia People’s Committee and that the authorities promised to inspect the site.

Five months ago, Trân said, he saw trees being cut down both near the top and bottom of the waterfall. When he approached the loggers, questioning them about permissions to cut trees, they rebuffed him.

“What right do you have to ask questions? Now this area is state-owned. We can do as we please,” Trân quoted them as saying.

The offenders had also built an embankment around the bottom of the waterfall to turn it into a water reservoir for agriculture, he said.

“Previously, this area was untouched, with a charming waterfall, bamboo trees and imposing basalt stone columns. Its beauty attracted many tourists. But now it looks like a hydroelectric reservoir. There are no bamboos left at all. There are just stones lying everywhere, like a huge construction site.”

Residents of Đắk Tân village said such violations had been going on for years and started with the logging of trees in the forest near the top of the waterfall. The current situation was the result of repeated violations without intervention by local authorities.

Speaking to Vietnam News Agency reporters, authority of Đắk Nia Commune expressed surprise that Cột Đá waterfall has been embanked, and promised to look into the matter immediately.

The authority said the embankment was actually a road built to walk across the waterfall and that a company named Tam Nông Gia Nghĩa was responsible for its construction.

The fact was that a decision to build the road was agreed at a meeting between the head of Đắk Tân village, the company’s director and some households. As per agreement, the company would finance the construction as the local authority had not granted a budget.

Đồng Quang Huy, head of Đắk Nia Commune’s People’s Committee, said that after the meeting, head of Đắk Tân village should have informed local authorities about the decision, and that construction could start only once the plan was approved by the committee.

Land administration officials in Đắk Nia Commune said the path could be considered as an encroachment on 3,500sq. m of state-managed land within the Đắk Kút quarry - also teeming with stone mining violations.

The Cột Đá waterfall violations is not an isolated incident, but just one among the many encroachments on natural spots in Đắk Nông Province, according to the Việt Nam News Agency report. – VNS

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