Viet Nam News
QUẢNG NINH — Companies in the northern coastal province of Quảng Ninh have been illegally exploiting coal under the guise of carrying out legitimate projects, devastating the local environment and natural landscape.
Before 2015, there was a vast forest in Quảng La Commune, Hoành Bồ District, but that has been flattened by Hạ Long Group Company, turning the whole area into a massive mining site. However, instead of exploiting soil as they are permitted, the company has been mining for coal, the Thanh niên (Young People) newspaper reported.
According to Hoành Bồ District People’s Committee, in 2015, a project to construct the Đồng Khuôn Ward Cemetery in Quảng La Commune started with investment of VNĐ4 billion (US$172,000) from the company, but under the top soil it found a seam of coal
“Since December 2015 when the coal was exposed, the cemetery project has been delayed while coal mining has increased,” said Phạm Văn Hùng, Secretary of Quảng La Commune Party’s Committee.
Although Quảng Ninh Province People’s Committee has asked the company to repair the site and halt all coal mining activities, but the request has been ignored.
Ten hectares of forest disappeared while 40,000 tonnes of coal was illegally exploited in only two years while a road leading to Hồ Thiên Pagoda in Bình Khê Commune was under construction, the newspaper reported.
Monk Thích Đạt Ma Trí Thông, abbot of Hồ Thiên Pagoda, said the local environment had been destroyed, and the birds and animals that once called it home had all gone.
In 2016, Quảng Ninh Province People’s Committee issued Viễn Đông Company a 50-year lease for 15ha to build a waste treatment plant in Tràng Lương Commune, Đông Triều Town.
Instead the company excavated land beyond the permitted areas down to 40m, threatening water supplies for thousands of residents.
The company was only stopped in 2017 when the matter was reported by the media.
According to Quảng Ninh Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, projects involved in illegal coal mining had been running since 2013. Following an investigation, the department asked the provincial People’s Committee to withdraw licences from 13 projects along with 400,000 tonnes of coal.
The issue, however, is continuing in Đông Triều Town and Hoành Bồ District. On October 29, Nguyễn Đức Long, the provincial chief, asked Hoành Bồ District authorities to put an end to all illegal mining and take responsibility for managing natural resources while restoring the natural environment.
Nguyễn Hữu Nhã, deputy head of the district’s People’s Committee, told the newspaper that despite the provincial authorities’ requests, Hạ Long Group Company had shown no signs of co-operation.
Lại Hồng Thanh, deputy director of the General Department of Geology and Minerals under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said that project investors had to report to the ministry whenever minerals were found.
Regarding the road construction project in Đông Triều Town, the ministry had not received any reports from Quảng Ninh authorities about coal mining.
Thanh asked the province to submit a report on the matter.
“We will consider conducting a further investigation,” he said. – VNS