Viet Nam needs to support efforts to protect the environment with forceful laws, Colonel Doan Huu Chau, head of Ha Noi's environment police, told newspaper Kinh te & Do thi (Economic and Urban Affairs).
As the head of Ha Noi's environment police unit (PC49), what are your thoughts on the state of the environment in the city?
My unit - PC 49 - has carried out many measures to ensure protection for the environment. Thanks to our hard work and the public's support, no major pollution cases have been reported in the city recently.
However, pollution has reached an alarming level, particularly in relation to the treatment of waste water and the management of solid waste from industrial production and traditional craft villages.
Statistics show that each day around 80,000 cubic metres of waste water is discharged from industrial production facilities, with only 60 per cent of the volume being treated. Around 160,000 cubic metres of waste water is discharged from craft villages, of which only five per cent of waste water is treated. There are also large quantities of construction waste lying around the city and in rural areas.
Meanwhile solid waste is piling up. This has become a major source of pollution.
Meanwhile, hospital waste has become a significant health threat in addition to the rampant use of chemical pesticides by farmers. Noise from big construction sites are also affecting quality of life in the city.
Can you tell us a bit about your unit's activities in environmental protection?
I have to say that environmental violations in Ha Noi are rather widespread. They occur in all aspects of daily life and in the course of commercial activities.
By late 2013, my unit had detected 8,411 violations, of which 6,812 cases were fined a total sum of more than VND 56 billion ($2.6 million). More than 1,000 cases were transferred to authorised agencies.
However, we have managed to successfully bring 192 cases to court on charges of violating Article 190 of the Criminal Law on protecting endangered animals, five cases of forest destruction and 13 cases involving violations of the Law on Food Safety.
What are the difficulties you and your men are facing while carrying out your duties?
PC49 was established with the purpose of preventing and fighting criminal activities and violations of the Law on Environment.
Since the establishment of our unit, we have been pro-active in giving advice to various agencies to help them fulfill their duties on environmental protection. We've also been active in helping to compile amendments to the Law on Environment.
However, we are facing quite a lot of restraints due to the incomplete laws relating to environmental violations. As we all know, our environmental legal system is still in the process of developing and there are some areas of contradiction in the law.
This has caused quite a big problem for us in trying to enforce the law. — VNS