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Fishermen hit back at sand dredging threat

Update: September, 03/2015 - 09:03
The homes and livelihoods of residents in Van Ninh district's Dai Lanh commune in southern Khanh Hoa Province are being threatened by a sand dredging project. — Photo vovgiaothong.vn

KHANH HOA (VNS) — The homes and livelihoods of residents in Van Ninh district's Dai Lanh commune in southern Khanh Hoa 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 Dai Lanh commune but also cost the inhabitants their incomes from fishing in the river.

Phan Thi Lich fears that her house in Dong 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 Dai Lanh 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 Van Phong economic zone management board to collect opinions from local authorities about the feasibility of the project and to listen to residents, according to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

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

The provincial People's Committee and Viet 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 (Youth) newspaper reported.

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

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

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