Viet Nam News
LÀO CAI — Almost 1,100 households in the northwestern mountainous provinces of Lào Cai, Sơn La and Lai Châu are in areas with a high risk of landslides, erosion and flash floods.
The National Department for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control under the Water Resource Directorate, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, have said landslides, erosion and flash floods are occurring more frequently and with greater severity in the northwestern provinces.
The impact of climate change and deforestation and the risky custom of living at the foot of sloping hills or mountains are blamed for the increases in natural disasters and high death rates, said Văn Phú Chính, head of the National Department for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control.
Chính said local residents were so reckless that they had encroached on rivers and springs to build their houses, blocking the flow of water.
“I see that local residents have lots of experience in preventing land erosion and flash floods, but they ignore the warning signs,” he said.
“They build houses at the foot of sloping hills and delay evacuation to safer areas,” he said.
In the last decade, Lào Cai Province experienced 22 flash floods and erosion, which killed 312 people and caused losses of VNĐ2.4 trillion (US$107.6 million) while Sơn La Province had 108 flash floods and erosion, killing 125 people and causing losses of VNĐ1.6 trillion.
Chính also said local authorities were not determined enough in punishing violators and speeding up the resettlement of people in erosion-prone areas.
They usually blame this on the shortage of funds for resettlement, he said.
For example, 23 families in Nặm Bắt Hamlet, Tân Tiến Commune, Lào Cai Province, need to move their houses as, since 2014, cracks up to 60cm wide have appeared on the summit of the mountain next to their hamlet.
However, local authorities have failed to arrange their resettlement so far.
Local resident Trương Văn Lán said they have built makeshift houses in potentially safer places while awaiting government assistance to move to a new area. — VNS