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Spiritual tourism site plan raises concerns

Update: December, 15/2018 - 09:00
Tourists and pilgrims flock to Hà Nội’s Mỹ Đức District to join the Hương (Perfume) Pagoda. Environmentalists have raised concerns over a plan to build a spiritual tourism site in the area. - VNA/VNS Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – Many environmentalists have raised concerns over the proposal to build a spiritual tourism site in Hà Nội’s Hương Sơn Commune which is home to Hương (Perfume) Pagoda.

They said the project would likely impact the ecological system of the area if it was not carefully studied.

The city’s Department of Planning and Investment has reported to the city’s People’s Committee on the project in Mỹ Đức District that has been proposed by Xuân Trường Construction Enterprise.

The project had investment capital of VNĐ15 trillion (US$645 million). It was planned to cover about 1,000 hectares, adjacent to Suối Yến wharf to the north, Tam Chúc - Ba Sao Tourist Area to the south, Hoà Bình Province to the east, and the Đáy River in Hà Nam Province to the east.

The project included dredging work to create 20 kilometres of waterway, the renovation of temples and pagodas in the area, the construction of a 100 metre high tower and the construction of a complex of hotels, restaurants and service works.

The site was expected to welcome between six and eight million visitors annually, creating jobs for 30,000 employees and contributing VNĐ1 trillion ($43 million) to the State budget.

Currently, the project is under consideration for approval.

PhD Dương Đức Tiến of the Institute of Biotechnology told Khoa học & Đời sống (Science & Life) newspaper the former Hà Tây Province’s Department of Science and Technology had organised a large-scale survey on the ecological system of the area ten years ago.

He was among the scientists involved in the survey, and he was surprised to find such a diverse ecology with rare plants and animals in the area.

PhD Đặng Huy Huỳnh, vice chairman of Việt Nam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment was also a member of the team.

He agreed with the construction of a spiritual site in the area as long as it brought no impacts on its ecological system and the natural beauty.

Huỳnh said the area had rare and precious plants and animals that needed to be well preserved, including sưa (dalbergia tonkinensis) and langur (trachypithecus delacouri), and millions of hundred-year-old trees.

Huỳnh said currently, there were only three forest areas for Hà Nội, including Ba Vì, Hương Tích and Sóc Sơn. The city had invested hundreds of billions of đồng to plant more trees.

How to preserve the ecology was another problem, he added.

Tiến agreed, saying the ecology has existed for hundreds of years and if it was lost, there would be no way to restore it.

According to the environmentalists, the enterprise needed to conduct an environmental impact assessment to understand any negative impacts on the ecology, the solution to minimise the impacts on as well as the effect on the livelihood of local residents. – VNS

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