|A resident in Dong Vien Village shows the place where illegal sand theft has caused serious riverside erosion. — Photo thanhtra.com.vn
HA NOI (VNS) — The Gia Lam District police in Ha Noi on Thursday caught three vessels in the act of stealing sand from a section of the Duong River.
The river runs through the Phu Dong and Dang Xa communes of the district.
Major Colonel Le Van Nghiem, leader of Gia Lam Police's economic affairs team, said that the largest of the three vessels weighs 100 tonnes, capable of holding 100cu.m of sand.
"They can suck 50cu.m of sand per hour from the river bed. The sand will be sold illegally to wholesale buyers at prices ranging from VND30,000 to VND35,000 (US$1.5-$1.7) per cu.m, with the cargo being transferred right on the spot from vessel to vessel.
Nguyen Van Hung, vice chairman of Phu Dong Commune People's Committee, told Thanh Tra (Inspection) newspaper that sand thieves have been operating in the above-mentioned section of the river Duong since 2003, especially at night to avoid being caught. "At peak times, five to seven vessels have been spotted stealing sand," Hung said.
Talking to the newspaper, Vice Chairman of Gia Lm District People's Committee Nguyen Duong blamed the illegal practice for the severe cave-ins on the shore, causing loss of land in his district.
Duong mentioned Dong Vien Village in Dong Vien Commune, where the illegal practice has caused serious riverside erosion, leading to loss of 5.6 hectares of land, including one hectare of agricultural land.
"Usually, when people see vessels illegally mining sand near the shore, they will call the paramilitary and together, they shoo the thieves away."
Duong said that he had criticised the commune's leaders for letting the situation go unchecked, and ordered that they should arrange for land to be given as compensation to the people who had lost 5.6ha of land. — VNS