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Craft villages pollute environment

Update: September, 13/2009 - 00:00

Craft villages pollute environment

(14-09-2009)

A brick kiln in District 9’s Long Binh Ward in HCM City belches out smoke. — VNA/VNS Photo Van Khanh

HA NOI — Approximately 90 per cent of the country’s 2,790 craft villages have violated environmental protection regulations, according to the Ministry of Public Security’s Environmental Police Department.

"Common among most of these craft villages were contributions to water, air and land pollution," said head of the department Colonel Nguyen Van Ly at a recent conference on fighting against environmental pollution in craft villages.

For example, inspections at 123 production and trade establishments in a village specialising in producing and recycling metals in northern Bac Ninh Province revealed that they did not invest in building exhaust funnels and wastewater treatment facilities.

"Meanwhile, solid waste discharged during their production and trade was not collected, but dumped directly into the environment, causing severe air, water and groundwater pollution," he said.

Analyses conducted by authorised agencies found that the air quality in these areas was seriously polluted, with dust calculated at 113-230 times higher than the allowed level and the amount of sulphur dioxide (SO2), produced when a material or fuel containing sulphur is burned, was 48-60 times higher than the allowed level.

An inspection of the Phong Khe paper production craft village in Bac Ninh province found that the majority of local businesses directly discharged waste water into the village’s common drain, which leads directly into Ngu Huyen Khe River.

Other craft villages that were found causing serious pollution include Thuî Ung in Ha Noi’s Thuong Tin District, Dai Phu in northern Ha Nam Province and Yen Vien in northern Bac Giang Province.

"It was discovered that the majority of businesses in these craft villages did not file environmental impact reports or make commitments to protect the environment," Ly said.

"The majority of craft villages have small-scale productions with backward technology, and awareness among locals of the harmful effects of pollution were the major reasons leading to the problem," he said.

"Moreover, many businesses overuse chemicals regardless of their harmful impacts. Due to the lack of environmental protection awareness, they discharged untreated waste directly into the environment," Ly added.

Locals in these craft villages would be the first to suffer if they become polluted.

An environmental pollution report released by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in April showed that the rate of sick people in craft villages, especially among working-age people, was increasing.

It also revealed that the percentage of villagers who contracted skin and respiratory diseases, diarrhoea and eyesores in craft villages was much higher than in non-craft villages.

The average life span of residents in craft villages has decreased, currently 10 years lower than the country’s average life span.

To tackle the problem, Ly said it was essential to raise awareness among the people in craft villages about protecting the environment for the sake of their health first.

"Besides, the State should map out a plan for craft villages to develop sustainably, including construction of waste treatment systems," he said.

"The environment police would also strictly punish those businesses and households in craft villages who seriously polluted the environment," Ly added.

Under the environmental protection laws, environmental polluters could be fined between VND100,000 (US$5.6) and VND500 million ($28,000) based on the severity of their infringement, and they would be required to stop production until they take measures to treat the pollution. — VNS

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