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Ha Noi's lakes face challenges

Update: November, 02/2015 - 08:02
Workers fish rubbish out of the Truc Bach River in Ha Noi. Water quality of lakes in the city is damaged by fish farming, parking and being used as landfill sites. — VNS Photo Viet Thanh

HANOI (VNS) — The number of lakes in Ha Noi has decreased from 122 to 112 between 2010 and 2015, with 17 completely leveled and seven additional lakes added.

The statistics were published in the "Ha Noi Lakes Report 2015", conducted by the Viet Nam Environment Protection Fund and the Centre for Environment and Community Research (CECR).

The report highlights progress and failures compared to a 2010 report on lake environments in the six core districts of Ba Dinh, Hoan Kiem, Hai Ba Trung, Cau Giay, Dong Da and Tay Ho, also compiled by these two organisations.

According to Nguyen Ngoc Ly, CECR director and editor-in-chief of the report, the total surface area of the city's lakes has declined by 72,540sq.m over the past five years.

During a ceremony to release the report last Friday, Ly pointed out several challenges that prevented the restoration and long-term management of lakes and wetlands.

Decentralisation in lake functions is one major concern, according to the report.

Water quality is damaged by fish farming, encroachment by building construction, parking and use as landfill sites.

"If people use lakes as fish breeding areas to make profit, the lakes will continue to degrade," Ly said.

"The lake bank is controlled by Ha Noi Green Tree and Park Company while lake surfaces are managed by Ha Noi Urban Environmental Hygiene Co., JSC. It is like a body cut into parts," she said while noting overlap of the two organisations' role in managing lakes.

She suggested a general managing board under the supervision of local authorities to address the issue.

She also put forward an urgent solution in which each lake should have a specific area of absolute non-infringement.

Pham Sy Liem, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Federation of Civil Engineering Association, highlighted five lake functions, including creating urban scenery and adjusting the city's temperature.

"Tourists in Ha Noi are impressed by two things: lakes and trees," he said.

The report reveals that out of 30 researched lakes, six are heavily polluted.

"It's urgent we stop dumping rubbish and waste liquid in lakes. If we want to do this, we need to create places to dump rubbish and construct sewage systems around lakes," Liem said.

Lakes bring direct and indirect benefits. It is time for us to realise that natural resources are economic properties, said Liem, adding that Ha Noi must invest in lake protection. — VNS

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