|More than 1,000ha of forest land will be used for building highways. VNA/VNS Photo Sơn Văn|
HÀ NỘI — The Government has recently submitted to the National Assembly Standing Committee a report on converting forests, forest land and wet-rice land for the North-South Expressway in 2021-25.
Accordingly, the Government proposed changing the land use purpose of 1,054 hectares of forest to ensure no major impact on the environment and to reach the project schedule.
The total forest land includes 111.84 hectares of protective forest, 4.45 hectares of special forest, 802.91 hectares of forest for wood production, and 135.43 hectares of other forests.
Among these forest lands, Quảng Bình Province in the central region has the largest converted forest area with 437.25 hectares, including 11.84 hectares of natural forest and 425.41 hectares of planted forest.
According to the review by the Department of Construction and Traffic Work Quality Management (Ministry of Transport), seven provinces have forest land that needs to be converted to serve the North-South Expressway in 2021-2025, including Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị, Quảng Ngãi, Bình Định, Phú Yên and Khánh Hoà.
Currently, the provinces of Hà Tĩnh, Quảng Bình and Khánh Hoà have developed alternative afforestation plans.
The localities have planned that one hectare of planted forest converted for the highway will be replaced by one hectare as a replacement, while one hectare of the natural forest will be replaced by three hectares of planted forests.
The People's Committees of the provinces and cities will decide the price for afforestation, the amount of assistant money, and the time for replanting forests by investors.
The price of replacement afforestation is calculated based on the local average cost of afforestation, including costs of survey, design, afforestation, and management until it becomes a forest.
In addition, to minimise the environmental impact of the forest land conversion, the replacement afforestation area should be deployed in bare land and barren hills, far away from the old place, or planted in another locality if there is a shortage of land.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has been focusing on examining and reviewing the status of forests that need to be converted to to ensure consistent data and locations for publication.
According to the transport project management boards, they have all submitted reports to the People's Committees of the provinces and cities on the assessment of the replacement forest areas.
Accordingly, the converted forests are mainly low economic value forests of acacia, eucalyptus and coconut, so the land conversion does not affect the National Forest Development Strategy and minimises the impact on forests, reservoirs and electric 500kV transmission lines.
Meanwhile, the Department of Construction and Traffic Work Quality Management said that as of May this year, the North-South Expressway project in 2021-2025 met the schedule set by the Government.
Twelve localities where the expressway passes through had written agreements on the direction of the route, and the Ministry has approved nine out of ten component projects of national defence.
Particularly, the Hậu Giang - Cà Mau project has not yet received feedback from the Ministry of National Defence on the direction of the route passing through the defence land areas.
The process of handing over the site clearance has discovered that 2.79 hectares of land managed by the military units are being used for aquaculture.
Feasibility study reports and topographic, geological and hydrological field surveys of the 12 component projects have also been completed.
And the survey for materials and dumping sites is under consulting process and expected to be completed by May 15.
The department of Construction and Traffic Work Quality Management has completed the evaluation and submitted a plan of ground clearance for 136.3km of roads to the Ministry of Transport.
Boards of Transport project management had also sent the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) reports on environmental impact assessments of the 12 projects.
At MONRE’s request, six projects are needed to set up a policy framework for the ground clearance, and four projects were added fire prevention plans.
The 12 projects of the North-South Expressway in 2021-25 include sections of Hà Tĩnh - Quảng Trị, Quảng Ngãi - Nha Trang và Cần Thơ - Cà Mau with a total length of about 729km, passing through 12 provinces and cities, with a total preliminary investment of nearly VNĐ147 trillion (US$6.37 billion) of public investment.
The highways are expected to be completed in 2025 and put into operation in 2026. — VNS