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Environmental pollution in VN reaches alarming proportions

Update: June, 10/2009 - 00:00

Environmental pollution in VN reaches alarming proportions

(11-06-2009)

NA Committee for Science, Technology and Environment deputy chairman Nghiem Vu Khai spoke with Dien Dan Doanh Nghiep (Business Forum) about environmental pollution.

How do you evaluate the implementation of environmental protection policies among enterprises nationwide?

Environmental protection is among the three key factors of sustainable development in any country. However, the level of environmental pollution in our country is alarming.

The inspection of enterprises’ operations in economic zones and urban areas in 2008, which was conducted by the Committee for Science, Technology and Environment, showed that only 20 per cent of 200 industrial zones were equipped with waste treatment systems. The number of enterprises who actually use their treatment system is much lower than that.

So what do you think is the main cause of the current situation?

The responsibility, initially, belongs to State management agencies. The regulations on implementing the environment protection law remain inadequate and out-of-date in many cities and provinces, according to our survey. For example, there are 20 regulations on the jurisdiction and responsibility of provincial-level authorities, but the current law’s guidelines lack information and do not meet requirements in localities.

In addition, the poorly-equipped systems for checking and analysing waste samples in localities prevent relevant authorities from finding and punishing violators.

In my opinion, the State does not allocate enough money from its budget for environmental protection. Thus, it’s necessary to enhance the socialisation process of waste treatment and environmental protection in the future.

What is your opinion on the recent public outcry that the punishment for environmental polluters is not strict enough?

I would say that there has been a deep change in the investigation and punishment of environmental violations, but the process is still not as effective as it should be since we are still meeting difficulties.

Thus, the amendment to the Criminal Law, which will be approved soon, will increase some punishments for environmental criminals. Obviously, criminal processing is one of many other measures. The more important is to raise awareness, especially among organisations and enterprises, about environmental protection. If violations keep occurring, the solution to the long-term consequences will be costly and time-consuming.

Investment in waste treatment facilities is expensive and pushes enterprises to raise the price on their products. This is regarded as the main cause of the increase in violations among enterprises. In your opinion, what supportive policies are needed to deal with the problem?

All enterprises should calculate the expense of environmental protection when chalking out their business plans.

However, in some cases, where enterprises conduct projects that create jobs for labourers or purchase farmers’ products, the State is likely to support the company with land, tax exemptions. The enterprises, in this case, still have to take legal responsibility for environmental protection.

It’s unacceptable to justify a violation by pointing to economic growth targets. The implementation of environmental polices will become a key factor in the sustainable development of enterprises and contribute to their image and trademark in the market and society.

What is your opinion about the amendment of the Environmental Protection Law, which gives enterprises more legal rights?

The arguments proposed at the NA meeting to change some regulations of the Environmental Protection Law, in my opinion, are not convincing enough. The current regulations, which require enterprises to implement environmental impact assessments and studies on project feasibility, are totally appropriate for the State policies and the Environmental Protection Law. Only when these two things are approved should enterprises be able to obtain a business licence.

I think we should explain this to enterprises, make them understand and encourage them to implement environmental protection policies and share the responsibility with the State and society. — VNS

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