Saturday, January 20 2018

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Deputy PM promises no repeat of sea poisoning

Update: January, 09/2018 - 09:08
Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng speaks at a meeting to examine the main tasks of the national environmental sector yesterday. — Photo VGP

HÀ NỘI — Deputy Prime Minister Trịnh Đình Dũng said yesterday that incidents such as the mass poisoning of fish off the coast of Việt Nam last year should never happen again. “It was a painful lesson,” he said.

Dũng was speaking at a meeting to examine the main tasks of the national environmental sector, including why the nation’s land-use effectiveness is still lower than in other countries in the region - and how to handle endless land petitions.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Trần Hồng Hà said the meeting aimed to assess the sector’s activities during 2017 and set new targets this year.

Deputy Prime Minister Dũng said poor management by authorised land-use agencies was to blame for many land petitions in 2017.

The main  problem was the limited implementation of  policies related to land issues in several localities.

Data from the ministry revealed it had dealt with 3,094 land petitions in 2017.

To achieve new targets, Dũng ordered the ministry to quickly build a land database as well as gradually modernise the public service managing land under the model of electronic government services.

He said the ministry was told to finish issuing land-use right certificates for State owned forest enterprises this year.

Minister Hà said that ensuring water security was also another important task to focus on this year.

Agreeing with Hà, Dũng said water security was one of the pressing problems challenging the country. Việt Nam had suffered from lack of fresh water due to pollution, rising sea levels and salinity intrusion.

Thus, he said, the ministry had to improve its assessments on water resources and raise public awareness on using and exploiting water resources.

Additionally, Dũng said the ministry was required to focus on mobilising financial domestic and international support to effectively implement the National Strategy on Climate change.

Consecutive typhoons and floods, triggered by climate change, killed 386 people and caused a total damage of nearly VNĐ60 trillion (US$2.63 billion) in the country in 2017.

Dũng said that the environment sector had to tighten controls on the quality of waste-water discharged into the environment this year.

“It is absolutely not allowed to let an incident like the Formosa incident happen this year,” he said.

After the incident, the lesson was drawn that developing the economy had to be run parallel with protection environment, he said.

“We now need to put the task of protecting the environment to the highest level,” he said.

The Formosa incident occurred in April 2016, when hundreds of tonnes of fish died in seas off four coastal provinces - Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị and Thừa Thiên–Huế.

The Taiwanese Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh Steel Corporation claimed responsibility for the disaster, admitting that it had released toxic wastewater into the sea along these provinces.

It pledged to compensate more than VNĐ11.5 trillion ($500 million) to support local fishermen and recover the polluted marine environment. — VNS

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