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Fishermen attack sand dredges

Update: August, 30/2015 - 21:19
The removal of so much sand has weakened the foundations and steps leading to many houses. Residents have replaced broken steps with sand bags. — Photo tuoitre.vn

KHÁNH HIA (VNS) — The homes and livelihoods of residents in Vạn Ninh district's Đại Lãnh commune in southern Khánh Hia Province are being threatened by a sand dredging project.

Since the project started, the depth of river sand has fallen by 80 centimetres. This has weakened the structure of the bank and threatens to not only undermine 500 households in Đại Lãnh commune but also cost the inhabitants their incomes from fishing in the river.

Phan Thị Lịch fears that her house in Đong Nam hamlet will collapse if the project continues.

The removal of so much sand has weakened the foundations and steps leading to many houses. Residents have replaced broken steps with sand bags.

For two days at the beginning of August, more than 110 irate locals on about 50 boats surrounded the dredging area and threw bricks and bottles at the dredgers, according to provincial border guards.

At the same time, 20 to 30 women and children headed to the headquarters of Đại Lãnh commune's People's Committee to verbally oppose the continuation of the work.

The investor was later told to halt the project and to withdraw his dredgers.

The provincial People's Committee has asked Vân Phong economic zone management board to collect opinions from local authorities about the feasibility of the project and to listen to residents, according to Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper.

The sand dredging project, conducted along a 12km stretch of river, covers 1,213 hectares in Vân Phong economic zone. Sole investor in the zone is the Phúc Sơn company, which plans to remain until 2 023.

The provincial People's Committee and Việt Nam Marine Department originally gave permission for the company to exploit the river sand..

According to the provincial Customs Department, so far more than 415,000 cubic metres of sand have been removed and exported to Cambodia and Singapore, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

The dredging project is apparently also aimed at deepening the seabed in Vân Phong economic zone to enable 100,000-tonne ships to enter.

This is aimed at attracting investment to the zone and developing tourism, said Trần Kim Bảo, deputy chairman of Vạn Ninh district's People's Committee.

However, residents say the project is not feasible. They say there are no ports, industrial activities or major tourism infrastructure in the area.

Last year, many barges began to appear near Vạn Thọ commune to load the sand. It is near where local fishermen have been catching shrimps for many years. — VNS

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