Viet Nam News
HOÀ BÌNH – Many households in Hoà Bình Province have destroyed their farms to mine gold illegally, falsely informing local authorities that they are digging shrimp ponds.
Some have even sold their own land to illegal gold miners.
Local authorities have admitted their impotence, saying that they need more higher-level support to deal with the problem.
In Kim Bôi District’s Mị Hoà Commune, the illegal gold mining has been blatant. With many machines like excavators, bulldozers, drilling and pumping machines operating in each plot of land, the din is deafening.
The damage to the top soil has been severe, with the digging going down to four or five metres.
A plot of land belonging to commune resident Đinh Công Điệp, located on the main road in Đồng Hoà 2 Village, is a deep hole. Miners can be seen panning for gold just a few steps away.
Diệp told online newspaper danviet.vn that he was digging a fish pond because growing rice on the land was not bringing much profit.
To avoid the attention from local authorities, Điệp has covered his “pond” with a black net and planted some banana trees outside.
Many other residents are doing the same.
Quách Công Trình, head of Đồng Hoà 2 Village, claimed there were no gold mining activities, adding that the residents were switching from rice cultivation to fish farming.
However, the switching process has being going on for three years.
Particularly noteworthy is that the illegal gold mining area is located right in front of the Mị Hoà Commune’s People’s Committee.
Chairman of the committee, Bùi Xuân Hoàn, said his office has tried its best to protect local agricultural land from being destroyed by illegal gold mining.
He said that 20 years ago, part of the Bôi River passing the commune had been seriously destroyed by a rumor saying that there was gold under the riverbed. After searching in vain for a short time, the miners, mostly from outside, left the area.
However, four years ago, some residents in the commune surprisingly discovered pieces of gold when digging wells. The story spread quickly, and all residents began digging up their land in the hope of striking it rich.
So far, no gold has been found, but agricultural land had been seriously destroyed.
Hoàn also said that since 2013, the committee has conducted many inspections, suspending illegal gold mining by five households and seizing 30 machines. In three cases, fines of VNĐ2 million (US$88) each have been levied.
However, these measures have failed to top households from continuing their exploitation.
Hoan said the People’s Committee has recorded 20 households selling their arable land to gold miners.
It has held meetings between local residents and police, and encouraged miners to stop their behavior. It has also reported the situation to authorities in Kim Bôi District as well as the provincial administration. Provincial police have inspected the area, but the situation has not improved.
The committee has currently asked the local electricity company to stop power supply to households violating the law, and continued reporting on the situation to district, he said. – VNS