Polluting factories not all moved out of central Hanoi hinh anh 1A fire broke out at Rang Dong lightbulb factory on August 28 last year in Hanoi, releasing toxic air and mercury into the surrounding environment, resulting in a major scare for the entire city. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) -
The relocation of factories posing risks of pollution from residential areas was necessary and more public space should be created, heard participants at a seminar held in Hanoi on July 23.

The results of a survey conducted by the People’s Participation Working Group (PPWP) revealed that 98.49 percent of interviewees supported Hanoi’s decision to move polluting factories from residential areas.

The survey, run in May and June this year, interviewed 152 people residing in Hanoi to collect their opinions on public space and the relocation of factories.

Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed said their living space was affected by the operation of factories, while 80.5 percent said they were affected by toxic air pollution, said Le Quang Binh, President of PPWP

Some 92 percent of interviewees said public space was important to their lifestyles and 79 percent said public space in the city has failed to meet demand.

A field survey of PPWG at 39 factories that must be relocated in Hai Ba Trung and Thanh Xuan districts revealed only 21 had been relocated.

Under a plan approved in 2016, 117 facilities must be relocated from 12 inner districts by 2020, according to a report from the Hanoi People’s Committee.

However, relocations are at a standstill due to problems securing capital for relocation and lack of favourable policies for using land in the most effective way.

A fire that broke out at a warehouse of Rang Dong Light Source and Vacumn Flash Joint Stock Company in Thanh Xuan district’s Ha Dinh street on August 28 last year drew public attention to the issue.

A report that 27kg of mercury might have been leaked into the surrounding residential areas after the fire raised concern over contamination and forced many people living in its vicinity to move out of their homes.

The fire served as a wake-up call, prompting city authorities to fast-track the relocation of industrial manufacturers.

Nguyen Thi Hoa, 74, a resident in Ha Dinh street, said locals have been suffering from serious pollution due to heavy smoke discharged from three industrial plants namely Sao Vang Rubber JSC, Thang Long Tobacco company and Rang Dong light bulb for many years.

“We have sent complaints to relevant agencies many times but nothing has been improved,” he told Vietnam News.

The survey by PPWG pointed out that most surveyed people want factories which pose risks to the environment to be replaced by parks or flower gardens (93 percent) while many of them want to use the land for building health and education facilities.

According to Dinh Dang Hai, an expert from HealthBridge Foundation of Canada in Vietnam, public space in Hanoi is very limited.

Overall public space per person in Hanoi is only 3 square metres and as low as 30 square centimetres in Hoan Kiem district.

“There is a big gap for Hanoi to meet the standard of public space [5 square metres per person] compared to other cities in the world,” he said.

Pham Thuy Loan, Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Institute of Architecture, agreed, saying urban design was a field which mainly focused on the quality of urban space for people. Therefore, public space must be easily accessible.

She suggested the city should take advantage of existing parks and green trees to increase green space.

It was essential to change the purpose of unused land, especially after factories relocation, she said, adding that priority should be given to the development of green trees and public space to improve the people’s living condition, Loan said./.