|A dust cart collects rubbish in Hà Nội. Heavy fines for those who litter in public areas have been put into effect for more than a year. — VNS Photo Việt Thanh|
HÀ NỘI – Regulations imposing heavy fines of up to VNĐ7 million (US$301) on those who litter in public areas have been in effect for a year-and-a-half, but the number of violators who have been discovered and fined remains modest, so most city dwellers are indifferent to the fines.
In the meantime, the competent authorities have carried out loose management, blaming their failure to implement the regulations on a shortage of staff.
Government decree 155/2016/NĐ-CP took effect last February, imposing fines of between VNĐ500,000 ($22) and VNĐ1 million ($44) on those who threw cigarette butts and ash in no-smoking areas, and VNĐ3 million ($133) to VNĐ7 million ($301) for those littering in public spaces such as streets or sewage systems in residential areas.
The decree was expected to curb littering and help make the environment clean and green. It has not been effective as desired.
Throughout Hà Nội, domestic and construction waste is seen dumped on the pavements, especially on ring roads and new roads such as Kim Giang, Định Công, Nguyễn Xiển and Thăng Long Boulevard, or small roads along the Lừ and Sét rivers.
In small alleys in residential areas, piles of garbage appear at hidden corners, polluting the environment with a horrible smell.
In the Old Quarter, garbage is dumped right onto the streets or under the trees, mainly in front of street vendors, although the dust bin is often just a few steps away.
A sanitation worker who wished to be anonymous said she and other colleagues worked hard all day as garbage is everywhere.
“They just litter into the streets”, she said. “It seems that no one has been fined.”
She said when the decree came into effect, district authorities patrolled and asked people to throw garbage into dust bins, so the streets were clean. But after only a short period of neglect, everything reverted to normal.
The regulations stipulated that the people’s committees at all levels and police in communes, wards and townships were in charge of inspecting and giving fines for violators.
Lê Trung Dũng, head of the Hanoi Urban Environment One Member Co. Ltd’s Communication Office, told Tiền Phong (Vanguard) newspaper the functional authorities were meant to fine violators, but their actions were not drastic and regular. As a result, the environmental situation improved in a short while, but it quickly returned to the previous situation.
In fact, there are very few cases of fines being issued, making people indifferent to regulations and blatantly throwing rubbish in public spaces.
The Hoàn Kiếm District People’s Committee estimates that in the first six months of this year, the committee has fined 171 people for littering with total fines of VNĐ780 million ($33,540).
However, it admitted that littering still occurs in pedestrian streets, and many violators were not fined.
A representative of Thanh Xuân District People’s Committee said the committee faced the same difficulties in imposing fines. Early this year, the committee set up a working team to patrol the streets and installed 30 dust bins to help people avoid littering on the streets.
But the situation has not improved much.
Mai Trọng Thái, head of Hà Nội Environmental Protection Division, said many communes, wards and townships could not mobilise staff around the clock to patrol the streets or alleys to deter violations.
Đặng Hồng Thái, vice chairman of Thanh Xuân District’s People’s Committee, said that the committee has worked with the youth union and women’s union to strengthen inspections and crack down on littering.
Six companies were fined for littering construction waste into the streets, he added.
A representative of local authorities suggested that the dissemination of information on the regulations should be enhanced via street cleaning activities with the participation of local residents. – VNS