As excessive burning of straw waste on rice fields in northern Vietnam is smothering air quality of multiple localities, including Hanoi, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has ordered local authorities to rectify the situation.
The direction was stated in an official dispatch issued on June 9 and endorsed by Vo Tuan Nhan, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment.
According to the document, air quality in Hanoi and provinces along the Red River is deteriorating due to straw burning, which poses threats to public health and socio-economic development.
In a bid to curb air pollution, the environment ministry required leaders of provinces and cities in the area to have effective solutions against solid waste burning, including straws and other agricultural discards.
Farmers would need to sign a commitment form to pledge the discontinuance of straw burning, while those keeping on doing it would be subject to penalties.
|Straw burning discharges fumes to the atmosphere in Hanoi. Photo: Anh Tuan / Tuoi Tre|
Provinces and cities should devise projects to guide farmers on better practices in agricultural waste collecting, handling and processing, turning them into useful by-products, the dispatch stated.
They are also required take drastic action to enforce a government directive on enhancing air pollution control, as well as drawing up a plan to manage local air quality pursuant to technical instructions from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
After the harvest season in May and July every year, rice farmers in the rural outskirts of Hanoi, as well as surrounding provinces, start burning excessive straws and other solid waste from their agricultural practices to provide the soil with ashes as a type of natural fertilizer.
The municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment estimates that 300,000 metric tons of straw is burned each year, reducing Hanoi's air quality and causing problems for pilots flying into and out of Noi Bai International Airport, according to news site VnExpress.