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Sand theft threatens capital's dike system

Update: April, 13/2013 - 08:00

HA NOI (VNS)— Illegal sand exploitation damaged the capital city's dike system, said Do Duc Thinh, director of the municipal Flood, Storm Control and Dike Management Department.

The illegal practice had changed the current of the Hong (Red), Duong and Da Rivers, seriously affecting waterway traffic and causing landslides, according to Thinh.

"It's very difficult to catch the perpetrators red-handed, as they work in groups and quickly inform each other whenever there is a police patrol," he said.

In addition to damaging the Sen Ho, Loi, Dong Vien and Thinh Lien embankments, the sand harvesters also destroyed land used for agricultural production.

Thinh said that many people were attracted to illegal sand exploitation because it required little investment but offered temptingly high profits.

Within two hours, a ship can take about 100cu.m of sand and gravel from riverbeds, which can be sold for VND2 million (US$95).

"The most serious issue is that to reach good quality sand, people dig deep into riverbeds, causing landslides," he said.

Moreover, a department investigation revealed that only 17 out of 200 areas used to store building materials were licensed. These areas are threatening the embankments' safety.

Commune people's committees were assigned to check whether embankments used to store building materials have proper licenses. The committees will join hands with waterway police to continue patrols, especially at night, to catch ship owners illegally taking sand from riverbeds. — VNS

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