|Illegal sand exploitation by villagers is destroying 300ha of casuarina forest, much of it planted under a Japanese aid programme to protect Pho An commune in the central province's Duc Pho district. — Photo tuoitre.vn
QUANG NGAI (VNS) — Illegal sand exploitation by villagers is destroying 300ha of casuarina forest, much of it planted under a Japanese aid programme to protect Pho An commune in the central province's Duc Pho district.
Vice-chairman of the commune's people's committee, Nguyen Tan My, said yesterday that despite many efforts to curb illegal sand mining, villager continued to remove sand for building.
"We have been struggling against mining along the beach near the commune. The over-exploitation of sand is starting to affect the trees that have protected the communal farm and people from storms and sand encroachment," My said.
The vice-chairman said the communal administration could only impose a VND2 million (US$95) fine for illegal sand mining case.
However, the district people's committee or the provincial department of natural resources could impose heavier penalties.
My said the communal administration had asked the district and province to consider to consider stronger penalties, such as imprisonment.
"Illegal sand mining activities has been going on for years as residents dig sand for construction. Each truck of sand sells for about VND600,000 ($29)," said Huynh Van Tui, a resident living in An Tho village.
"The sand mining has deeply encroached on a large area of the protective forest. Miners often work quietly at night to escape detection," he said.
The vice chairman said the commune could possibly assign some areas for sand mining in the future.
"We have been in discussions with residents about the problem. Demand for sand is increasing. We will allow some businesses to mine for sand at allocated areas under strict controls by the administration," My said.
He said that illegal sand miners were now being asked to backfill the areas that they had exploited rather than pay a fine.— VNS