Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung (second from right) on his tour to Bac Lieu province (Photo: VNA)

Bac Lieu (VNA) – Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung had a working session with authorities in the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu on April 27, concerning the condition of drought and saltwater intrusion at present.

According to Duong Thanh Trung, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee, thanks to precautionary measures, Bac Lieu saw a relatively low impact from the disasters despite its coastal location.

The province has thus far recorded no fishery damage, and residents have yet to face water shortages. However, saltwater intrusion and drought have taken their toll on more than 14,500 hectares of local rice paddies, some of which were ruined by as much as 70 percent.

Trung said the main concerns at the moment are baking weather and increasing salinity, which will harm summer-autumn rice crops and shrimp farming.

Salinity measured in local shrimp farms, covering 130,000 hectares of water surface, now surpasses 35 ppt. Shrimp cannot live in water where salinity is higher than 40 ppt.

Without enough fresh water, the operation of these farms is likely to be halted altogether, he noted, adding that the planting of summer-autumn crops has been rescheduled to begin at the end of May.

Trung proposed State support in the swift implementation of projects on building the Ninh Quoi canal lock and a sluice preventing saltwater on the Cai Lon River.

These projects will benefit several regional provinces apart from Bac Lieu, such as Kien Giang, Hau Giang and Soc Trang, but the provincial budget cannot afford the costs, he added.

Deputy PM Dung requested the province ensures water supply for locals’ daily use in the dry season, overhauls the irrigation system, and restructures local production to match the current situation.

He tasked Bac Lieu with urgent dredging of irrigation ditches, closing the sluice system, and calculating the exact number of disaster-hit households for prompt support.

The same day, the Deputy PM toured affected localities in Hong Dan district’s Ninh Hoa and Ninh Quoi communes, presenting gifts for five disadvantaged local families.

The occurrence of saltwater intrusion and drought in the Mekong Delta is forecast to last until June.-VNA