Viet Nam News
By Nguyen Hang
For the last two days, an unusual phrase has become a buzzword in the capital city: “Filling Thành Công Lake.”
It has to be said right away that this phrase carries literal meaning, because it stems from an actual proposal made by an investor to the capital city administration.
The investor has asked city authorities for permission to fill up one hectare of the 6ha Thành Công Lake to build an apartment complex, ostensibly for resettlement.
In exchange, after constructing the building, the investor would dig up a hectare nearby to make a man-made lake.
The proposal provoked immediate scorn and outrage, with many members of the public and experts expressing their opinions in no uncertain manner.
Bùi Khánh Linh, 33, a civil servant, was caustic: “This is hilarious. When other countries try to go green by creating more green spaces…, we do the opposite,” she said.
She cited Germany’s Frankfurt as an example of a green city. Of the total city area, 52 per cent comprises open spaces and water. The city-state Singapore is the greenest city in Asia, according to the Green City Index. Almost 30 per cent of its urban areas are covered by greenery, most of them man-made green spaces, Linh said.
“But Hà Nội seems to be doing the opposite,” she said.
On local media websites, reader and experts gave vent to their anger.
Đào Ngọc Nghiêm, Vice President of the Việt Nam Urban Planning and Development Association, wrote in an article carried by the Tiền Phong (Vanguard) online newspaper: “The proposal is inappropriate, it does not belong to the city’s master plan.”
Phạm Sỹ Liêm, Vice Chairman of the Việt Nam Construction General Association, was more critical. “The investor knows nothing about the importance of lakes in the city,” he fumed.
Lakes help protect the city from floods, recharge groundwater supplies, and reduce air temperatures, he said.
Furthermore, the Thành Công Lake was not just valuable for residents living around it, the city cannot allow another water surface area in exchange, and filling up a part of the lake would not be a feasible plan, he added.
“Although it is only a proposal by an investor, the city administration has to firmly reject it,” said Phạm Thanh Tùng, deputy chief of the Việt Nam Association of Architects.
Residents in the vicinity of the lake have already been suffering a “breathless” atmosphere after a lot of high-storey buildings mushroomed there in recent years. “And now this proposal,” he said.
The city administration should carefully think about what would happen if the proposal was green lighted, “the cost we would have to pay,” he added.
Been there, done that
Data from the Centre for Environment and Community Research reckons that 17 lakes in the city have been filled since 2010.
The centre also says the water surface area in the city’ inner districts has gone down to just 1,165ha now compared to 2,100 ha in 1995.
Haphazard urbanization has led to the filling up of lakes to get land for constructing buildings, reducing the water surface area drastically, the centre says.
Last May, Hà Nội suffered the most severe flooding in a decade, triggered by torrential rains of up to 374mm. Rescue forces had to work hard to stabilise the situation.
In fact, floods have been a frequent occurrence in recent years, especially in summer. A downpour of 200mm over an hour is likely to inundate the city, the centre estimates.
Phạm Ngọc Đăng, president of the Việt Nam Civil Engineering Environment Association, said filling lakes to build high-rise buildings, leaving no space for water drainage when it rained, was one of the major reasons for increased flooding in recent years.
Despite a flood-control project worth trillions of dong being implemented, the city administration is still desperately seeking sustainable solutions to the problem, he noted.
In 2015, Hanoians were outraged when hundreds of old and big trees were cut down under a “crazy” project that was scrapped after residents within and outside the city launched an unprecedented protest.
Now, there is this equally crazy proposal. And the citizens have to take action so that the proposal does not see the light of the day again.
Hanoians are proud of our city of lakes and rivers, we should protect them. We cannot let anything like this happen anymore. — VNS