Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc (centre) speaks at a national conference in Quảng Trị Province on May 17.— VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất
QUẢNG TRỊ — Efforts to stabilise lives, production and businesses in the central provinces affected by the Formosa-related marine environmental incident have paid off, said Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc at a national conference in Quảng Trị Province on May 17.
Local residents have put more trust in the Party and authorities, and united with each other to address the incident, he continued.
The national conference was held to review the performance of the steering committee for solutions to respond to the environmental disaster and prevent long-term damage to people’s lives and economic circumstances.
Mass fish deaths were first reported on April 6, 2016 when a large number of fish washed ashore in Hà Tĩnh Province. The phenomenon also occurred in neighbouring Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị and Thừa Thiên – Huế provinces.
About 70 tonnes of dead fish were found in the four provinces. This environmental incident caused serious losses in the maritime ecosystem and seafood resources, affecting around 510,000 people of 130,000 households in 730 villages of 146 communes and towns of 22 coastal districts of the four provinces.
Officials gained experience from addressing the incident, PM Phúc said. He lauded Hà Tĩnh Province’s determination to bring the case on wrongdoings in compensating and supporting the affected fishermen to court.
The leader attributed such outcomes to the contributions of scientists, members of the steering committee, leaders and the political system at the commune-, district- and provincial levels, army and police forces and the public at large.
He highlighted the publicity, transparency, democracy, accuracy and close supervision in the work.
However, PM Phúc said, there remain shortcomings in the compensation work, sparking public complaints.
Citing the fact that 0.9 per cent of the compensation fund has yet to be disbursed, the Government leader requested the early completion of support and compensation for local fishermen.
He described the environment as a pillar of national development and asked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to propose solutions to protect the country’s environment in general and maritime environment in particular over the long term.
The ministry was also urged to establish more environment monitoring systems in major cities, industrial parks and environmentally polluted spots, firstly in the four central provinces of Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị and Thừa Thiên – Huế provinces, with the supervision of the public.
It is also necessary to continue inspecting the operations of Formosa, especially after the test run of its second furnace, while ensuring security and social order in the central region, he said.
In late June 2016, Taiwan-invested Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh Steel Co Ltd (FHS) admitted responsibility for the environmental horrors and pledged to set up a fund of US$500 million to compensate affected people.
On August 23, 2016, the Prime Minister established a steering committee for solutions to respond to the disaster.
In addition, the Government leader also decided to provide emergency assistance for affected locals, including over 19,000 tonnes of rice and cash worth over VNĐ101 billion ($4.45 million).
According to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyễn Xuân Cường, fisheries resources in the four localities have recovered with their seafood output hitting nearly 152,000 tonnes in 2017, up 23.5 per cent year-on-year.
Consumers also feel secure in buying central Vietnamese seafood, resulting in increases in seafood prices.
Last year, the four provinces’ tourism sector bounced back as well, with rises seen in both the number of tourists and revenue.
To date, the Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh Steel Co Ltd has installed automatic monitoring devices and cameras and directly transmitted its data related to the environment to the Hà Tĩnh Department of Natural Resources and Environment and the Việt Nam Environment Administration.
Paying tribute to martyrs in Quảng Trị
Prime Minister Phúc on the same day paid homage to martyrs at the Trường Sơn National Martyrs Cemetery on the occasion of his working trip to the central coastal province of Quảng Trị.
The Trường Sơn National Martyrs’ Cemetery is the resting place of over 10,000 soldiers from across Việt Nam. Most of them were from Corps 559 of Trường Sơn soldiers and sacrificed their lives on Hồ Chí Minh Trail during the resistance war against the US.
The PM and his entourage also offered incense and laid wreaths at the Road No 9 National Martyrs Cemetery where more than 10,000 martyrs were buried. The fallen soldiers fought in the Road 9 battlefield and Laos during the anti-US resistance war.
The PM expressed his gratitude to the martyrs who devoted their youth to national independence and freedom. — VNS