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Over-mining river sand to build new highway in central Vietnam

Monday, August 10, 2015, 14:55 GMT+7
Over-mining river sand to build new highway in central Vietnam
Mining sand from the bed of the Vu Gia - Thu Bon River in Dien Quang Commune, Dien Ban Town, Quang Nam Province

The Vu Gia – Thu Bon River has been damaged, with some sections completely changed, due to the over-exploitation of sand and soil from it to provide materials for the construction of the Da Nang – Quang Ngai Highway in central Vietnam.

Many areas which the river runs through in Dai Loc District, Duy Xuyen District and Dien Ban Town in Quang Nam Province have become ‘sleepless’ due to the over-exploitation of sand both day and night.

Farms and areas on both sides of the river have been damaged after sand was sucked up by ships and pumped onto trucks to carry away to build the VND28 trillion (US$1.3 billion) 139km-long highway, which is planned for completion in 2017.

These days, roads connecting villages along National Highway 1 in central Vietnam have been ‘overloaded’ with hundreds of trucks.

The bed of the Vu Gia – Thu Bon River has been turned into a construction site. Numerous ships suck and carry sand to provide it for trucks on both banks.

Standing on the Ky Lam railway bridge in Dien Ban Town, one can clearly see construction sites located in the middle of the alluvial river bed.

Le Thi Bong in Duy Trung Commune, Duy Xuyen District pointed at a crescent-shaped strip of land by the river bank and said, “Ships often suck up sand from the middle of the river bed during the day, but stealthily encroach near both sides at night.

“Our land along the river banks has shrunk over time thanks to sand over-mining.

“We have protested this to local authorities, but it has remained unchanged.”

A local in Dien Tho Commune of Dien Ban District said floodwater which comes annually from July to October may become more dangerous due to the changes in its flow.

Those who suck up the sand have even illegally built a road in the middle of the river to connect both banks when water levels are low.

The six-lane Da Nang – Quang Ngai Highway, which starts in Hoa Vang in Da Nang and ends in Tu Nghia in Quang Ngai, needs over 26 million cubic meters of sand and soil for construction.

Nguyen The Hoi, head of the bureau of natural resources and environment of Duy Xuyen District, said local authorities have tightened checks over the illegal exploitation of sand from rivers but have been unable to stop it.

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