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Vietnamese environmental department head, 2 deputies probed for violations during residential relocation

Monday, November 20, 2017, 14:43 GMT+7
Vietnamese environmental department head, 2 deputies probed for violations during residential relocation
Trieu Ngoc Hoan, director of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment in the northern province of Son La. Photo: Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment

A departmental director in the northern Vietnamese province of Son La has been arrested along with his two deputies for violations relating to the relocation of residents for the implementation of Vietnam's biggest hydroelectric power project.

Trieu Ngoc Hoan, director of the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment, and 14 officials from the agency have been captured, local authorities announced at a press meeting on Sunday evening.

Truong Tuan Dung and Phan Tien Dien, deputy directors of the environmental department, were nabbed on Thursday last week.

All suspects are being probed for managerial oversight and intentional actions against regulations regarding the relocation of residents for the construction and operation of the Son La hydroelectric power plant in Muong La District.

According to Senior Lieutenant Colonel Tran Thanh Son, chief of staff of the provincial Department of Police, Hoan and three other officials have been charged for oversight and irresponsibility.

The other 13, including Dung and Dien, are indicted for deliberate actions against regulations.

Dien and Dung committed their alleged wrongdoings while they were vice-chairmen of the People’s Committee in Muong La, Son added.

Representatives from the Son La Department of Police and People’s Procuracy at a press meeting on November 19, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Representatives from the Son La Department of Police and People’s Procuracy at a press meeting on November 19, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Hoan and another official have been released on bail and banned from leaving town, while the other 15 are being held in custody.

Detailed information regarding the offenses cannot be given during the investigation, the police official explained.

The Son La hydroelectric power plant was put into operation in December 2012 with a capacity of 2,400 megawatts, the highest in Vietnam.

Due to the enormous scale, the facility required the relocation of over 20,000 households impacting more than 92,000 people in Son La, Dien Bien, and Lai Chau Provinces.

Over 61 percent of these residents were from Son La.

An investigation later revealed multiple offenses, yet to be publicized, regarding the acquisition and compensation of land, which resulted in heavy losses to the state budget, Sr. Lt. Col. Son said.

The violations took place between April 2014 and March 2015, the police official elaborated.

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