|Sand mining activities at Dầu Tiếng Reservoir in Tây Ninh Province have been suspended since April 20. — Photo tuoitre.vn|
HCM CITY — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has asked the provinces of Tây Ninh, Bình Dương and Bình Phước to suspend sand mining operations at Dầu Tiếng Reservoir, following an order from the Government.
The ministry told officials to adjust planning for construction sites and dumps in the reservoir to ensure safety and protect the environment and management of natural resources at the reservoir.
The provinces have also been asked to intensify inspection and supervision of violations in the protection area of the Dầu Tiếng – Phước Hòa irrigation system, especially management of submerged land.
In addition, the provinces must resolve the problem of illegal households living in the reservoir area as well as improve protection of forests and develop tourism.
The Dầu Tiếng-Phước Hòa Irrigation Exploitation Company has been assigned to work with provinces to exchange information and detect and handle violations within the protection area of the reservoir.
Provinces and Government agencies must report the outcomes to the ministry by the end of the month.
On April 20, Tây Ninh authorities decided to suspend sand mining activities of 11 enterprises that the province had licensed in Dầu Tiếng Reservoir.
The move aims to streamline sand mining and identify violators before allowing the activity to resume.
Sand prices used for construction have risen from VNĐ300,000 (US$13) per cubic metre to VNĐ450,000 ($20). The businesses are allowed to mine 350,000cu.m of sand a year.
According to Tây Ninh authorities, the province has also suspended the issuance of new licences for mining operations at the reservoir.
Meanwhile, Trần Thanh Liêm, chairman of Bình Dương Province People’s Committee, said the province had not issued licences for sand mining activities on Sài Gòn River and Dầu Tiếng Reservoir since 2015.
Previously, two companies had been licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to harvest sand at the two places, but that was recently suspended, Liêm said.
“Any company which still harvests sand in these two places is doing it illegally,” he said.
Illegal sand mining still exists, Liêm said, adding that the province had created an inter-sectoral inspection team to crack down on the issue. But the illegal activities are still taking place.
Meanwhile, an official of Bình Phước Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment said the province had not been informed about the suspension from the ministry.
Located on the upper reaches of Sài Gòn River, the Dầu Tiếng – Phước Hòa hydropower plant is the largest irrigation system in Southeast Asia, which is bordered by the three provinces of Tây Ninh, Bình Dương and Bình Phước (mostly Tây Ninh Province).
The reservoir has a water capacity of about 1.58 billion cu.m, with a water surface of 2,700sq.km, which provides water for 100,000ha of farmland in Tây Ninh and Long An provinces and Củ Chi District in HCM City.
In addition, the reservoir is the main source of water, with a capacity of 43cu.m per second, for households and industrial production in HCM City and in neighbouring provinces such as Tây Ninh. — VNS