|A boat illegally mining sand on a stretch of the Red (Hong) River through Phu Tho Province is found by the Ha Noi Police. Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Tuesday suggested that illegal sand miners receive criminal proceedings instead of administrative punishments.— VNA/VNS Photo Doan Tan
HA NOI (VNS) — Those who performed illegal sand mining must face criminal proceedings instead of being fined, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at a teleconference on Tuesday.
The teleconference, which was co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai, aimed to direct central cities and provinces to effectively prevent illegal sand and gravel mining along rivers and at sea.
Deputy PM Phuc said that illegal sand mining had led to changes in river flow, environmental pollution and tax losses.
In Ha Noi alone, illegal sand mining could cause the State to lose taxes up to thousands of billions of dong.
Phuc said that the management of authorised agencies remained loose. In some localities, agencies were found to co-operate with sand exploiters for profit.
At the conference, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Hoang Van Thang warned rivers water levels were decreasing and erosion was occurring along them.
The water level of the Hong River had reduced by two metres. Each year, reservoirs must discharge up to five billions of cu.m of water for irrigation.
If Viet Nam failed to control sand mining, the water level of rivers across the country would likely reduce like the Hong River.
In the Mekong Delta, about 500 hectares of land were swept away annually due to illegal sand mining. In ancient Hoi An town in central Quang Nam Province, experts estimated that it would take approximately US$44.2 million to repair the erosion.
Dang Van Hieu, standing deputy minister of Public Security said that only 500 businesses were licensed to operate sand mining. Hundreds of others were illegal and protected by violent gangs.
Since 2009, as many as 65 persons have been arrested for killing or causing injuries to police when their illegal actions were discovered, he added.
At the conference, Deputy PM Phuc said it was necessary to set up information channels for local residents to report illegal sand mining.
He asked relevant authorities to add illegal sand mining into the list of crimes.
The Ministry of Public Security was assigned to investigate and crack down on gangs who were paid to protect illegal sand miners. The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment was asked to temporarily stop licensing more sand mining certificates. — VNS