Wednesday, July 26 2017

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Landslide havoc prompts ban on sand mining in Đồng Nai River

Update: July, 15/2017 - 09:00
Severe landslides along the Đồng Nai River have forced the provinces of Đồng Nai and Lâm Đồng to suspend all sand mining activities, including those by licensed projects.– Photo tuoitre.vn

HÀ NỘI – Severe landslides along the Đồng Nai River have forced the provinces of Đồng Nai and Lâm Đồng to suspend all sand mining activities, including those by licensed projects.

The two provinces that the longest inland river flows through have witnessed the most hectic sand mining activities in the country.

The order to halt sand mining holds good for three months starting July 5.

The Đồng Nai and Lâm Đồng administrations have said the temporary stop will be used to reassess remaining sand reserves in the Đồng Nai and Đạ Quay rivers as well as the environmental status of the river banks that have been hard hit by landslides in recent years.

It is evident that overexploitation of sand in the Đồng Nai River has deformed the riverbed, which has changed the water flow and hence eroded river banks, with hundreds of thousands of square metres of soil falling into the river.

According to a report  by the Lâm Đồng People’s Committee, landslides on the Đồng Nai riverbanks affected at least 11.75ha in Cát Tiên District alone, with more than 107,500sq.m of soil disappearing in Quảng Ngãi Commune, while Phước Cát 1 and Phước Cát 2 communes have lost more than 1,200sq.m and 8,800sq.m respectively.

Meanwhile, the Đồng Nai Department of Natural Resources and Environment, has said that upstream sections of the Đồng Nai River flowing through Tân Phú District and the Cát Tiên National Park have been suffering worsening landslides. About 14ha of river banks was lost have been lost so far.   

Over-licensing

The Lâm Đồng People’s Committee had previously granted 16 sand mining licences along the Đồng Nai River in Đạ Teh and Cát Tiên districts.

Local authorities allowed the exploiters to mine up to 78,600 cubic metres of sand a year along the 19.72km-long section flowing through Đạ Teh. On the same section of the river, the Đồng Nai People’s Committee also licensed the Phú Xuân Industrial Co-operative to exploit a total of 218,000 cubic metres until 2025.

A similar fate has been suffered by another Đồng Nai River section flowing 32.3km through Cát Tiên District.

Nine licences were given to five mining units and an individual in Lâm Đồng to exploit up to 95,100 cubic metres of river sand.

The Đồng Nai People’s Committee, however, also granted a license to the Đồng Nai Transportation Structure Company to mine more than 917,000 cubic metres on the same river section by 2024.

 To make matters worse, neighbouring Bình Phước Province allowed another company to mine nearly 312,000 cubic metres of sand until the end of next year.

And these damning figures do not include the ubiquitous illegal sand mining that happens in the area.

While the havoc wreaked by landslides have pushed the Đồng Nai and Lâm Đồng administrations to reduce their mining, there has been no dent in the over-exploitation because there has been no inspection or monitoring of the situation.

The two provinces have finally resorted to a temporary ban on all mining activities and agreed not to grant any licenses in the meantime.

If the ban is enforced and illegal mining is dealt with effectively, the Đồng Nai River can get some breathing space for the next few months.

But whether the destruction will resume depends on how serious the authorities really are about saving the river for succeeding generations of residents. – VNS 

 

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