Authorities in several northern provinces have remained silent as hundreds of thousands of households living along Lô River desperately seek help to prevent their farms being swept away by rampant sand mining. — VNA/VNS Photo Trung Kiên
TUYÊN QUANG – Authorities in several northern provinces have remained silent as hundreds of thousands of households living along Lô River desperately seek help to prevent their farms being swept away by rampant sand mining.
The households in the northern provinces of Tuyên Quang, Phú Thọ and Vĩnh Phúc say that hundreds of sand mining boats operating along the two river banks are responsible for the erosion that threatens their land. They have reported the situation to local authorities, but to no avail.
Dozens of dredging boats have been found operating on the river section that passes through Phú Thọ Province. Some of these have moved close to the river bank to mine sand, threatening residents’ corn fields.
Hồ Thị Thanh Kiên, a resident of Phù Ninh District’s Hạ Giáp Commune, said she as well as other residents had to harvest the corn in haste as they were afraid the land would disappear soon.
“The water has almost reached the fence of my corn field,” she said.
In Sơn Dương District’s Đông Thọ Commune, around ten hectares of farm land were lost to erosion soon after dredgers began operating in the area.
Dương Thị Liên, a resident of Sơn Dương District’s Lâm Xuyên Commune, said that as much as 700sq.m of her 1,000sq.m plus plot has been swept away, and she is scared she will lose the rest too.
Dương Thị Phương Nhung, chairman of Lâm Xuyên Commune People’s Committee, said they have been reporting the situation to provincial authorities, but have received no response.
A similar situation prevails in Vĩnh Phúc Province.
Although the provincial People’s Committee invested VNĐ 19 billion (US$836,400) last year to build a dyke system along the river in Sông Lô District, landslides have continued to occur.
Nguyễn Thị Loan, a resident of the province’s Đôn Nhân Commune in Sông Lô District, said that local residents have asked authorities for help many times, but received no reply.
The situation has seen conflicts flare up between the residents and sand miners.
After reporting the illegal sand mining produced no result, locals have gathered to block and even burn some of the boats.
On August 8, residents of Tuyên Quang Province’s Xuân Vân Commune burnt a boat belonging to the Toàn Thắng Construction and Trading Service Co. Ltd.
Nguyễn Hữu Minh of Xuân Vân Commune said that local residents had asked the company’s representative to talk about the serious landslides caused by its sand exploitation, but the company refused.
They had tried to drive the sand mining boats away, but these vehicles soon returned.
In July, 2016, a sand dredger belonging to the Thái An Company in Phú Thọ Province’s Vĩnh Phú Commune was also burnt. Locals claimed that the company’s boats were illegally mining sand outside the allowed area at night, causing landslides that threatened their land.
Residents say that lax management by authorised agencies, typified by mass granting of sand exploitation licences without any regard for sustainability, is also responsible for the conflicts between them and sand mining firms.
Along the 5km-long river bank in Vĩnh Phúc Province’s Đôn Nhân Commune, up to six firms have been licensed to mine sand.
A representative of the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment said that license granting procedures were implemented according to plans approved by provincial authorities.
On the accusation of illegal sand mining near the river’s banks, Trần Minh Dương, head of the provincial department’s Minerals Division, said that the office has conducted regular inspections of all six firms and found them operating in the designated area.
Dương said that their sand mining had not impacted the dyke.
In Tuyên Quang Province, provincial authorities have issued documents to halt all sand mining activities, but dredging boats have been caught operating regularly in Sơn Dương District’s Vân Sơn Commune.
In Phú Thọ Province, waterway traffic police say their inspections have found no violations.
Nguyễn Xuân Toản, head of the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s Minerals Division, said four sand mining businesses have been licensed in the province. Since 2016, the office has found no violations, he added.
But residents are not happy. They want authorised agencies to publicise the names of businesses that have sand mining licences, their mineral exploitation certificate, including the number of mines and their areas, total area and the quantity and type of exploitation. This, residents say, would allow them to monitor the businesses and report violations more accurately to authorised agencies. – VNS