Sóc Sơn District authorities blamed for lax forest management

Update: March, 22/2019 - 19:00
Buildings illegally constructed on protection forest land in Minh Phú Commune, Sóc Sơn District. — VNA/VNS Photo Thành Đạt
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Long-standing violations in the use and management of Sóc Sơn District’s protection forest land have been blamed on the lax management of local authorities.

The Hà Nội inspectorate recently released conclusions after a comprehensive inspection of forest land use and management in the district as ordered by  municipal People’s Committee Chairman Nguyễn Đức Chung. The inspectorate determined that the district People’s Committee and authorities of eight communes and towns are responsible for the violations.

Earlier, the media uncovered widespread unlawful transference of land use rights in several communes.

Some individuals bought dozens of hectares of land to build houses, villas, resorts and restaurants. All the involved land, however, belongs to protection forests. The developments are already in operation, offering accommodations to guests at high prices.

In 2017, district authorities discovered 555 illegally constructed buildings, of which 485 have not been taken down. Inspectors also said there were likely many more violations that had not yet been discovered.

The Sóc Sơn District People’s Committee was found to have failed to update forest land records or supervise the use, sale and transference of forest land.

Such inactions “show irresponsibility, violate Article 6 of the Government’s decree 23/2006 on the implementation of the law on forest protection and development and display a lack of management,” the inspectorate concluded.

Hà Nội’s protective and special use forest management board under the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has been blamed for lax management and not saving land use and transference records for 186.63 ha of land in seven communes.

The board reportedly did not work with local authorities to prevent local households from selling, buying or transferring land, or from constructing buildings in protected areas.

Authorities of involved communes – Quang Tiến, Phù Linh, Tiên Dược, Hồng Kỳ, Bắc Sơn and Hiền Ninh – have also been blamed for their poor management.

The inspection found that Hà Nội Land Register Office in Sóc Sơn District, the district’s Division of Natural Resources and Environment and the district People’s Committee granted 13 land use certificates for lots located in the forest, violating the Land Law.

Switching the use of a lot and constructing buildings without permission are violations of the Law on Forest Protection and Development.

Local authorities including those overseeing construction management and issuing land use certificates must be held responsible for violations. This group includes chairmen and deputy chairmen who served on Sóc Sơn District People’s Committee from 2008 to the present.

The inspectorate proposed the city People’s Committee report the violations to city police to impose further penalties.

District authorities must clarify responsibilities and impose punishments on individuals and organisations involved in infringements from 2006 to 2018.

Buildings illegally constructed in 2017 and 2018 must be dismantled, the inspectorate said.

The violations in the district were first detected in 2005 and 2006. Despite the municipal People’s Committee’s order to local officials to handle the violations, district authorities failed to do so and even allowed new construction in protected areas. — VNS