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Phu Tho ecotourism site forced to stop construction

Update: May, 05/2014 - 08:30
Further, the project is likely to receive an additional capital investment of VND200 billion ($9.5 million) to continue its second period of construction.— File Photo

PHU THO (VNS) — Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has ordered the People's Committee of northern Phu Tho Province to stop construction of an ecotourism site that brings hot mineral water for tourists.

The Deputy PM also asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to re-examine the project, located in Thanh Thuy Village, Thanh Thuy District, including its plans on land use, flood prevention and control, and its impacts on dyke systems in the province.

Further, the ministry was requested to report on the project to the Government.

The ecotourism site, which is located near the Thanh Thuy Hot Spring, was a key project to encourage the growth of the tourism sector in the province. Last month, it ended its first period of construction with an investment of VND450 billion (US$21.4 million).

Further, the project is likely to receive an additional capital investment of VND200 billion ($9.5 million) to continue its second period of construction.

The request followed reports on illegal exploitation of hot mineral water, which has caused losses of natural resources and had serious impacts on the quality of area water.

According to the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the area of the hot springs covered more than 4,770 hectares, stretching through five communes in the province.

Currently, nine enterprises have leased land to exploit the hot mineral water for their tourism services, within an area of 218 hectares.

Also, hundreds of households in the province have used the hot water for their daily use and businesses.

However, few have received licences to take advantage of the hot water source.

An inspection of the department last month showed that among seven enterprises that are operating their tourism services in the province, only one received permission from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Additionally, among 343 households that are exploiting the water, only 18 have registered their businesses.

The department said that the massive exploitation of the hot water has led to serious impacts on the quality of the water. The temperature of the water has greatly decreased each year. In 1982, the water temperature was up to 41 degree Celsius, but had fallen to 37 degree Celsius by 2000.

Also, waste water from enterprises and households, which was discharged directly into the environment, is another problem, as it has contaminated the underground water, it said.

Last year, the provincial People's Committee asked enterprises and households to stop illegally exploiting the hot water and discharging waste water into the surrounding environment.

They were even asked to fill in wells, which were dug for exploiting hot water. However, the situation has yet to improve.

The Thanh Thuy Hot Spring is considered a key natural resource for the province's tourism development. It has an average temperature of between 37 and 43 degree Celsius. The multiple micronutrient content of the hot spring is capable of rehabilitation, improves blood circulation and the relaxing of skin. — VNS

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