Yen Bai-- Illegal salvaging of antiques from the Chay River in the northern province of Yen Bai had become rampant following the closure of the Thac Ba hydroelectric plant's dam.
These illegal activities are taking place in the Yen Binh District in north-central Yen Bai Province and Doan Hung District of north-central Phu Tho Province, where the Chay River runs through.
Antique dealers speculated that there were many precious antique artifacts, gold, silver and jade items from ships or boats that have sunk on the Chay River, which was known as the aquatic "silk path". The river was a bustling trade route a thousand years ago, linking the Dai Viet (Viet Nam) civilisation with communities in China and further afield.
Today, many antique collectors are eager to invest millions of dong into buying equipment to salvage precious items from the riverbed. Dealers also trained local people to salvage items from the river.
Antique collectors were said to have found many broken pieces of china pots, antique coins, stone weapons and bronze items. These earned them a daily average of VND 200,000 for their work. However, they haven't found any precious items that can fetch prices of millions of dong, as some prospectors had hoped.
Work on salvaging antiques requires approval from the cultural heritage department of Yen Bai Province. However, the department said they were unaware of the illegal activities at the river, and have since faced criticism for not doing enough to prevent these illegal activities. --VNS