TRA VINH (VNS)— Dyke erosion and forested areas cut down for shrimp ponds are destroying farmland and affecting the livelihood of local residents in coastal areas in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Tra Vinh.
The provincial People's Committee has told local agencies to step up inspections of forested areas where farmers are cutting down trees to set up shrimp-raising ponds and to strictly punish violators.
In the coastal district of Duyen Hai, more than 177ha of protected forest in Hiep Thanh Commune have been destroyed in recent years, according to the province's Sub-department of Forest Protection.
Of the figure, more than 87ha was cut down by shrimp farmers. More than 79ha was damaged by insects and hoarfrost, and more than 11ha by erosion caused by high tides and strong waves.
Erosion has occurred in all five coastal communes in Duyen Hai District, affecting agricultural production and the lives of residents, according to the district's Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau.
Hiep Thanh Commune, which has a coastline of 8km, has been the hardest-hit commune in the district, as strong waves have washed away about 120ha of land in Go Bao hamlet and 60ha of land in Cho hamlet.
In November last year, strong waves broke several sections of a 300-metre, newly built dyke and hundreds of phi lao (Casuarina) trees in Cho hamlet.
The 10 metre-wide dyke was made from sandbags and canvas.
Ho Quoc Trieu, head of the Hiep Thanh Military Force, said that dyke erosion in Cho hamlet was unexpected because the dyke was relatively new.
After the dyke collapsed, local authorities enlisted the help of nearly 100 local residents and officials to repair the dyke over a three-day period.
If the dyke had not been repaired, sea water would have flooded 30ha of peanut fields belonging to 60 families, according to Trieu.
Similarly, Truong Long Hoa Commune has had eroded dykes along its coastline of 1.3 km, according to the commune People's Committee.
Phung Van Cuong, a resident in Con Trung hamlet, said the Khau Lau sea dyke had been eroded since 2010, and his family had lost 1,500 square metres of land due to the erosion.
With VND5 million given by the commune People's Committee, Cuong's family has been able to relocate and build a temporary house on his uncle's land.
"My family faces several difficulties because I do not have a stable job, and I do daily hired jobs," he said.
The commune is now building a cement dyke five metres wide and 700 metres long in Con Trung.
Phan Duong Nguyen, deputy chairman of the Truong Long Hoa People's Committee, said that "strong waves and high winds had ruined several sections of dykes, making it difficult to complete dyke construction."
Lack of capital and poor knowledge of dyke-building techniques have contributed to the problem, according to Huynh Van Cheo, head of the Duyen Hai Agriculture and Rural Development Bureau's Water and Agriculture Division.
Finding land to relocate local residents in vulnerable areas has also been a problem.
The district has assigned commune authorities to develop temporary measures to prevent damage that could be caused by high tides expected on February 9-10, the beginning of the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday. — VNS