HCM CITY (VNS)— Viet Nam is changing its legal framework to help the environmental services industry grow, according to Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Bui Cach Tuyen.
|The Fococev Cassava Starch Processing Factory in the central province of Ninh Thuan was fined for discharging untreated waste water in May this year. — VNA/VNS Photo Cong Thu
The current legal system was still fragmented and lacked regulations for environmental services providers, Tuyen said while chairing a workshop for environmental regulators and experts in HCM City last week.
Due to the lack of regulations, the current system of environmental services providers did not meet demand, said Vu Dinh Nam, from the Viet Nam Administration of Environment, so the new framework should include incentives to engage the private sector.
Statistics from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment reveal that the environmental services industry has great potential to thrive as the capacity to treat urban waste water only meets 10 per cent of the demand.
For example, 90 per cent of enterprises discharge waste water that fails to meet environmental standards; every day, about 2 million cubic metres of waste water are discharged directly into surface water sources from urban households, hospitals and manufacturing industries.
Among the six types of environmental services, participants focused on the low quality of environmental impact assessments (EIA).
A representative from southern Tien Giang Province's Department of Natural Resources and Environment said even though there were 20 consulting companies that provided EIA services, not a single one was capable of satisfying the department's needs.
"Many EIA reports were done on a wholesale cut-and-paste basis, and they deployed a reactive policy, meaning they would rather fix the EIA when requested rather than come up with an error-free version on the first try," he said. He cited the example of the EIA for two Dong Nai hydropower plants near Cat Tien Park, whose implementation has been put on hold. It was found that the documents were entirely copied from several EIAs for other projects. "Had this practice gone undetected by the media, it would have caused huge damage to the environment," he said.
Meanwhile, a representative from central Binh Dinh Province's Department of Natural Resources and Environment pointed out that while environmental engineers were trained to help protect the environment, they could often be found showing enterprises how to exploit the legal system's loopholes.
In 2010, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung approved the programme on the development of environmental services and appointed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to improve the legal framework component. — VNS