People’s Committees can sue polluters hinh anh 1Slums along a canal in HCM City (Photo:
Hanoi (VNA) - The Government is developing guidelines enabling People’s Committees of districts and provinces to sue polluters, Pham Van Loi, head of the Environmental Study Institute under the Vietnam Environment Administration, said at a recent conference on sustainable development.

A Government decree on assessment of environmental damage that took effect in March 2015 provides for suing polluting enterprises if they fail to agree on compensation with local authorities, including People’s Committees and the ministry of environment.

But Loi said compliance of Vietnamese firms with obligations relating to environmental protection, such as issuing environmental impact assessments, environmental protection plans, waste management and pollution reduction measures was still modest.

“Stricter punishment of polluters will deter them,” Loi said.

Deputy head of the Vietnam Environmental Admistration (VEA), Hoang Van Thuc, said there are 283 industrial zones in Vietnam but just 75 percent have waste water treatment systems and just 60 percent of the systems meet national standards. Only five percent of trade villages and industrial groups across the country have waste water treatment systems.

VEA data shows that half the enterprises inspected failed to complete legal documents relating to environmental protection. Thirty percent of enterprises discharged improperly treated waste water into the environment.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Vo Tuan Nhan, said that besides their obligations, enterprises were offered incentives in taxes, land use and infrastructure for complying with environmental protection laws.

However, enterprises complain that they face difficulties in accessing such incentives, Nhan said, adding that he himself saw enterprises struggle to access the Environmental Protection Fund when he was in charge of the fund management. — VNA