Illegal sand mining continues

January, 12/2017 - 09:00

Illegal sand mining still takes place along Bến Hải river in the central province of Quảng Trị in spite of efforts of local authorities, causing great public concern among residents for years.

Illegal sand mining along the Bến Hải River in Quảng Trị Province continues unabated, causing serious land erosion. — Photo
Viet Nam News

QUẢNG TRỊ — Residents are angry and worried that illegal sand mining along the Bến Hải River in Quảng Trị Province continues unabated despite local authorities’ efforts to stop the practice.

Dozens of households on the banks of the river in Gio Linh District have not only lost trees to land erosion triggered by the sand mining, their land itself is under threat.

A report in the Nông thôn ngày nay (Countryside Today) newspaper has said several illegal sand mining spots could be seen along the river,

Ngô Xụy, a resident of Vĩnh Tường commune, told the newspaper on Tuesday that the illegal sand mining caused land erosion around 1ha of land that belongs to his family, and they have lost many five-year-old cajeput trees to the river.

“Boat owners are trying to come deep into my land to exploit sand, causing a lot of land erosion,” he said.

Chairman of the Vĩnh Tường People’s Committee, Hồ Văn Sâm, confirmed that illegal sand mining has led to serious land erosion.

He said an inspection by Gio Linh District authorities a few months ago found a 30m long, 15m wide stretch of land had been lost to land erosion.   

One of boats found exploiting sand along the river is owned by the Nam Việt Đức Company. The company was licensed by the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment to exploit sand for five years, from August, 2011 to August 2016.

The department has asked the company to stop exploiting sand from last August, move all of its machinery and equipment out of the mining areas, and restore the environment affected by its mining activities.

However, the company has ignored the order and continued its sand mining operations.

Director of the district’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Nguyễn Đăng Anh, said Trung Sơn commune officials have reported that the company is still using small boats to exploit sand along Bến Hải River.

Local authorities have worked with the police to carry out inspections, but it was difficult to catch the boats red-handed, he said.

Boat owners often hire some people to keep close watch over the operation of authorities, so that they are warned whenever an inspection is going to happen, and they stop their activities accordingly, he said.

“We will increase inspections in the coming time to curb the illegal practice,” Anh said.  

For more than a decade now, rampant illegal exploitation of sand and gravel from river beds has damaged most rivers in the country, as also farms and gardens along riverbanks.

These activities have not been properly controlled by the Government and local authorities, according to a recent report by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

It said the situation has become “an extremely complicated trend”, causing loss of resources, environmental pollution and adversely impacting socio-economic development and public security.— VNS