Viet Nam News
CAO BẰNG — A familiar worry and anxiety tugged at Hanoian Nguyễn Thu Hà as she made her very first trip to the famous Bản Giốc Waterfall in the northern mountainous province of Cao Bằng.
At 24, Hà was a seasoned traveler who loved to visit all parts of the country. She never failed to enjoy the beauty and diversity of the natural landscapes, not to mention the local delicious specialties.
However, almost every trip left her disappointed in one major aspect.
“The places are so beautiful, but there’s always so much rubbish around,” Hà said.
Her experiences had told her to prepare for the same unsightly scenes of scattered trash spoiling a beautiful scene.
However, Hà was in for a very pleasant surprise. The waterfall was stunning and the area surrounding it was spick and span.
“There was no rubbish around, and the waterfall was so majestic. The seemingly endless forest of trees running into the mountains around made it perfect. I was so happy and could not wait to tell my friends about this,” she gushed.
Tourists visiting the Bản Giốc Waterfall in Cao Bằng Province are happy to see that the site is regularly cleaned and kept free of trash. — VNS Photo Thu Trang
Years in the making
To have a clean environment devoid of trash has taken years of efforts by local authorities and the tourism site management board.
Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, deputy chairman of the Trùng Khánh District People’s Committee and director of the Bản Giốc Waterfall Tourism Site Management Board, said that the board, in co-ordination with the Cao Bằng Tourism Joint Stock Company, had decided that their most important work would be to protect the local environment.
As a result of this focus, most restaurants, hotels and other establishments at the tourism site now follow all the regulations on protecting the environment, he said.
“They are aware of the need to collect rubbish and limit the use of plastic bags,” Hùng added.
Tống Thị Đàm Hương, director of the Cao Bằng Tourism Joint Stock Company, said that the company pays a lot of attention to collecting and treating trash, as well as wastewater treatment.
The company assigns workers to collect rubbish from around the tourism site everyday and take it into a designated area from where they are collected every Thursday by lorries of the Việt Dũng Environment Co-operative.
On average, 4 tonnes of rubbish is collected each month from the area surrounding the Bản Giốc Waterfall. About 100cu.m of wastewater from the local sewage system is also treated each month.
The Bản Giốc Waterfall Tourism Site is not the only enterprise in Cao Bằng Province that is complying with environmental protection regulations.
The Cao Bằng Cast Iron and Steel JSC (CISCO), located in Cao Bằng City, has set up a 10cu.m tank that is divided into three sections to treat effluents discharged from laboratories, whereas wastewater from daily use is taken to two 21.5cu.m tanks for treatment, said Trần Văn Chưởng, deputy director of the company.
“Dust and exhaust fumes are released into a standard purification system before being released into the air,” he added.
Hazardous waste is stored in a separate 90sq.m area and classified as per regulations, while solid waste from the cast iron and steel mines are discharged in two separate landfills with capacities of 1.2 million cu.m and 8.8 million cu.m, said Chưởng.
“All the company workers are aware and willing to obey regulations related to environment protection,” he said.
The Cao Bằng Construction Materials Manufacturing JSC is also setting a good example.
Nguyễn Tuyên Huấn, deputy director of the company, said that the company has built a system of tanks and water sprayers with a capacity of 20cu.m per hour to treat smoke discharged from the kiln. The smoke is treated to reach standard norms before being released into the environment via a 25-metre chimney. The treating system is cleaned up twice a year.
The company also recycles its industrial waste - cinder and broken bricks.
Huấn said they use machines to grind the cinder and broken bricks into artificial sand, which is then mixed with auxiliary substances and re-used as construction material.
The enterprise managing the Bản Giốc Waterfall in Cao Bằng Province has ensured the area is kept very clean. — VNS Photo Thu Trang
Đoàn Ngọc Báu, deputy director of the Environment Protection Division under the Cao Bằng Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said that to achieve results, the department was determined to spread information on environmental protection to organisations and individuals in the provinces, and also posted it online.
The province has set up a project on preserving biological diversity until 2020 with vision extended for another decade.
“We expect that the project will help promote and protect diverse landscapes and ecological systems in the province,” he said.
The department also provides guidance to mineral exploitation enterprises on funding environmental rehabilitation as per regulations.
In 2015, a total of 24 enterprises in the province paid more than VNĐ2.1 billion (US$93,300) into the fund. Thirty-seven enterprises signed on to the fund last year and 36 have done so in the first six months this year.
The department conducts periodical and random inspections to ensure enterprises are abiding by environmental protection rules, Báu said.
Local authorities say the Cao Bằng Cast Iron and Steel Joint-stock Company (CISCO) has set a good example in treating waste and protecting the environment. — Photo Courtesy of the CISCO
Hùng, director of the Bản Giốc Waterfall Tourism Site Management Board, said protecting the environment was key to sustainable socio-economic development in general, and tourism development in particular.
“Using natural resources reasonably and economically should go together with developing safe energy,” he said.
He said raising residents’ awareness with more and more information should be done consistently.
“The State should offer more preferential policies on taxation and land, as well as financial support for activities related to protecting the environment,” he said.
International co-operation should be enhanced, with authorities at different levels encouraging individuals and organisations to join the effort, he added.
"Plans to develop tourism sites should be scientific, considering all aspects and developing trends, and setting up proper policies for management in general and environmental management in particular,” said Hùng.
He said environmental managers should be given more training and modern equipment so that they can do their work more effectively. — VNS