Nguyễn Lân, Hà Nội’s former Chief Architect, speaks to the newspaper Kinh tế & Đô thị (Economic and Urban Affairs) about some of the measures needed to keep the capital clean and green.
Do you think the cleaning and renovation project in West Lake will have a positive impact on the environment?
I couldn’t agree more. I want to list the five most important issues:
First, the building of a lakeside walk has helped prevent illegal encroachment into the lake. Many households and developers living close to the lake have nurtured the idea of illicitly expanding their land to add value to their real estate. If the embankment and lakeside walk had not been built, I’m pretty sure West Lake would soon have become a pond.
Second, trees and flower tree planting along the lake will add aesthetic value. It also offers more recreation places for people and their children.
Third, the large lake will help make the environment cleaner and improve people’s living conditions.
Fourth, the beautiful scenery is well preserved – a special place right in the capital city.
And finally, it becomes an attractive venue for foreign tourists to stroll around the lake when they are in town.
In your opinion, are projects to renovate rivers and lakes in Hà Nội similar to those in other countries?
I just want to say Hà Nội’s rivers and lakes are all poetic. So are those of other countries. All countries, including Việt Nam, have developed plans to utilise their beautiful scenery for recreational activities to attract local people and foreigners.
But in our own case, we have faced many challenges, particularly the problem of illegal land encroachment, littering and waste dumping. With proper conservation and investment programs, we can earn quite a lot of money from these places.
Hà Nội has initiated quite a few projects to renovate its rivers and lakes. But some only appear on paper. Do you know why?
I have to admit that Hà Nội has invested quite a lot of money in dredging rivers and lakes. But due to poor environmental awareness, many rivers and lakes have become seriously contaminated. We all know the cost of keeping the surface water clean is high. So is the technology and expertise in this field. This has been a headache for Hà Nội authorities.
In my opinion, all the people should join in protecting the environment, stop throwing waste into the lakes and onto sidewalks, and stop using the sidewalks for selling activities.
What measures do you suggest to improve the situation?
I don’t thing the problem can be solved in one day. It requires a long-term strategy. Many people have complained that dredging rivers and lakes is very costly and does not generate any return. This is very wrong. Once the lakes and rivers’ water quality is improved, no doubt it will add value to the city’s aesthetics and increase the number of tourists to Hà Nội. Of course, in the course of preserving the rivers and lakes, we need the participation of people from all walks of life. In addition, we should launch campaigns to raise people’s awareness to environmental protection, particularly people living on the riversides and next to the lakes.
I’m pretty sure that when people and authorities are on the same page, lakes and rivers in the capital city will be clean – a good place for everyone to take a stroll after a hard work day, a place for children to play and an attractive destination for tourists._VNS