Sand mining erodes farm land in northern provinces

Authorities in several northern provinces've remained silent as hundreds of thousands of households along Lo river desperately seek help to prevent their farms being swept away by rampant sand mining.
Sand mining erodes farm land in northern provinces ảnh 1Land erosion along Lo River (Source: VNA)

Tuyen Quang (VNS/VNA) - Authorities in several northern provinces have remained silent as hundreds of thousands of households living along Lo river desperately seek help to prevent their farms being swept away by rampant sand mining.

The households in the northern provinces of Tuyen Quang, Phu Tho and Vinh Phuc said that hundreds of sand mining boats operating along the two river banks are responsible for the erosion that threatens their land. They have reported the situation to local authorities, but to no avail.

Dozens of dredging boats have been found operating on the river section that passes through Phu Tho province. Some of these have moved close to the river bank to mine sand, threatening residents’ corn fields.

Ho Thi Thanh Kien, a resident of Phu Ninh district’s Ha Giap commune, said she as well as other residents had to harvest the corn in haste as they were afraid the land would disappear soon.

“The water has almost reached the fence of my corn field,” she said.     

In Son Duong district’s Dong Tho commune, around ten hectares of farm land were lost to erosion soon after dredgers began operating in the area.

Duong Thi Lien, a resident of Son Duong district’s Lam Xuyen commune, said that as much as 700sq.m of her 1,000sq.m plus plot has been swept away, and she is scared she will lose the rest too.

Duong Thi Phuong Nhung, Chairwoman of the Lam Xuyen commune People’s Committee, said they have been reporting the situation to provincial authorities, but have received no response.

A similar situation prevails in Vinh Phuc province.

Although the provincial People’s Committee invested 19 billion VND (836,400 USD) last year to build a dyke system along the river in Song Lo district, landslides have continued to occur.

Nguyen Thi Loan, a resident of the province’s Don Nhan commune in Song Lo district, said that local residents have asked authorities for help many times, but received no reply.

The situation has seen conflicts flare up between the residents and sand miners.

After reporting the illegal sand mining produced no result, locals have gathered to block and even burn some of the boats.

On August 8, residents of Tuyen Quang province’s Xuan Van commune burnt a boat belonging to the Toan Thang Construction and Trading Service Co. Ltd.

Nguyen Huu Minh of Xuan Van commune said that local residents had asked the company’s representative to talk about the serious landslides caused by its sand exploitation, but the company refused.

They had tried to drive the sand mining boats away, but these vehicles soon returned.

In July, 2016, a sand dredger belonging to the Thai An Company in Phu Tho province’s Vinh Phu commune was also burnt. Locals claimed that the company’s boats were illegally mining sand outside the allowed area at night, causing landslides that threatened their land.

Residents said that lax management by authorised agencies, typified by mass granting of sand exploitation licences without any regard for sustainability, is also responsible for the conflicts between them and sand mining firms.

Along the 5km-long river bank in Vinh Phuc province’s Don Nhan commune, up to six firms have been licensed to mine sand.

A representative of the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment said that license granting procedures were implemented according to plans approved by provincial authorities.

On the accusation of illegal sand mining near the river’s banks, Tran Minh Duong, head of the provincial department’s Minerals Division, said that the office has conducted regular inspections of all six firms and found them operating in the designated area.

Duong said that their sand mining had not impacted the dyke.

In Tuyen Quang province, provincial authorities have issued documents to halt all sand mining activities, but dredging boats have been caught operating regularly in Son Duong district’s Van Son commune.

In Phu Tho province, waterway traffic police say their inspections have found no violations.

Nguyen Xuan Toan, head of the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s Minerals Division, said four sand mining businesses have been licensed in the province. Since 2016, the office has found no violations, he added.

But residents are not happy. They want authorised agencies to publicise the names of businesses that have sand mining licences, their mineral exploitation certificate, including the number of mines and their areas, total area and the quantity and type of exploitation. This, residents say, would allow them to monitor the businesses and report violations more accurately to authorised agencies.-VNA

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