Residents in the southern Vietnamese province of Dong Nai are calling on local authorities to put an end to dredging activities that they say are causing serious environmental devastation in the area.
Authorities in Dong Nai had recently allowed Tuan Hai Dang Company to dredge sand along a section of the Thi Vai River in the province’s Nhon Trach District when local residents began reporting that the operation was leading to environmental contamination and endangering the livelihood of the local community who depend on the river for daily activity and aquaculture.
According to an observation on Monday by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters, four large boats with illegitimate serial numbers were dredging the sand in an area near local shrimp farming grounds.
“Local agencies stated that the company would carry out the dredging to widen canals,” Tran Thi Le, a resident, said.
Thar claim was confirmed by a Tuoi Tre probe that showed that the Dong Nai People’s Committee had approved Tuan Hai Dang as the contractor for the Thi Vai River widening project.
Accordingly, the company will dredge nearly 410,000 cubic meters of sand along a 2.6 kilometer section of the waterway over the next 36 months.
The project’s cost is estimated at about VND37 billion (US$1.63 million), which is being funded by the firm.
The provincial administration has clearly stated that the company must strictly comply with environmental protection regulations and must not illegally exploit sand.
Le said the firm had been previously asked to pay for damage caused to farmers, though the offer was insufficient and subsequently declined.
According to the People’s Committee in Long Tho Commune, Nhon Trach District, about 100 households in the locality participated in a meeting with the company, during which leaders of Tuan Hai Dang promised proper compensation after an evaluation of the damage has been carried out.
Nguyen Van Xuan, a farmer in Long Tho Commune, reported that shrimp raised by him and other residents along the river have died en masse since the project was initiated.
“The dredging has also caused areas of land and forest along the river bank to erode and wither,” Xuan added.
According to Nguyen Van Dung, chairman of the People’s Committee in Phuoc An Commune, Nhon Trach, about 50 local residents have voiced complaints.
“Competent authorities should halt the project, carry out an assessment on the scale of environmental pollution, and suitably compensate for any damage to local aquaculture operations,” Dung said.