National Assembly discusses water security, extending Long Thành Airport project

October 27, 2023 - 08:52
The draft amendment of the Law on Water Resources has been adjusted to be more concise, highlighting the key principles and priorities in water management. 
Head of the NA Committee on Science, Technology and Environment Lê Quang Huy reports on the adjustments in the draft amendment for water resources law on Thursday. — VNA/VNS Photo An Đăng

HÀ NỘI — The 15th-tenure National Assembly continues its sixth session on Thursday with discussions on water management, housing and the ongoing Long Thành International Airport.

Head of the NA Committee on Science, Technology and Environment Lê Quang Huy said that having considered comments from the NA deputies, the draft amendment of the Law on Water Resources has been adjusted to be more concise, highlighting the key principles and priorities in water management. 

The draft also stipulates groundwater mining in areas with decreasing underground water levels or at risk of landslide or saline intrusion. 

For regions that have adequate water supply for households and production, individuals and groups are not restricted in their use of underground water, which ensures people’s legitimate rights and interests regarding water resources, said Huy. 

The document also distinguishes the management responsibilities for water resources and for planning, building and operating structures that utilise water. 

Water security is also added to the principles of management, protection, regulation, distribution, development and utilisation of water resources, as well as in water-induced damage control. 

Highlighting household water issues, NA deputy Lý Tiết Hạnh from Bình Định Province said that appropriate measures are needed to ensure safety for people, as well as water and national security. 

She suggested that the draft should clarify the scope and responsibilities of protecting domestic water sources. 

Hạnh also agreed with better defining the role of the Ministry of Public Security in monitoring and protecting large-scale water supply structures, especially cross-provincial and cross-national sources of water. 

Hà Giang Province’s NA deputy Vương Thị Hương underlined that establishing a database for water management is essential for state management in this sector, noting that most localities lack an information system on water resources. 

NA deputy Huỳnh Thị Phúc from Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province also proposed adding regulations on water supply and utilisation to have a flexible approach in case of unusual weather phenomena. 

This will support business and production activities as well as people’s daily lives, she said. 

She also noted that water management in mineral mining needs to be reviewed to avoid overlapping with regulations on waste discharge stipulated in the environmental protection law. 

According to the NA Standing Committee, regulating and distributing water resources is crucial for a stable water supply to various industries. 

Therefore, the draft has included the principles, solutions, scenarios and plans to regulate and distribute water resources, as well as the responsibilities of relevant ministries, departments and localities. 

Long Thành Airport project

According to Resolution 53/2017/QH14 approved by the NA, the project has a total investment of VNĐ22.94 trillion (US$932.22 million) with land recovery totalling nearly 5,400 hectares. 

In a new government proposal, the project investment is reduced to VNĐ19.21 trillion ($780.64 million), while the area of land recovered will be 5,317.35 hectares. 

This includes land for the Long Thành Airport, the Lộc An-Bình Sơn resettlement area and the reestablished infrastructure outside of the airport area. 

The government also proposed adjusting the project implementation period until the end of 2024. 

Transport minister Nguyễn Văn Thắng said that when the project was approved, the Đồng Nai Provincial People’s Committee mobilised resources and established a steering committee for the project implementation.

However, the progress fell short of expectations due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 and social distancing measures in place. The coordination to measure, calculate and compensate local residents for land recovery also faced difficulties and is taking longer than estimated, he said.

Đồng Nai Provincial People’s Committee also have to divide resources for key national projects in the locality such as the Dầu Giây-Phan Thiết and Bến Lức-Long Thành expressways.

The government therefore proposes extending the disbursement period, with VNĐ966.75 billion ($39.29 million) from the 2016-2020 medium-term public investment plan, and VNĐ1.55 trillion ($62.99 million) from the 2021-2025 medium-term public investment plan to complete the project.

Presenting the inspection report, head of the NA Committee on Economy Vũ Hồng Thanh agreed with the proposal for project extension to 2024 for construction and disbursement work. 

The committee also gave high regard to Đồng Nai Provincial People’s Committee's proactiveness in advancing the local budget for compensation and resettlement for land clearance.

The NA Committee for Economy also noted that the province should consider the impacts of these advance payments to the local socio-economic development targets. 

The NA also discussed resettlement and housing issues later the same day. — VNS