Parks leave rivers of shame

June 18, 2012 | 13:41
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Vietnam’s industrial parks and major river basins will continue to be soiled by grave industrial environmental pollution.

Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) Nguyen Minh Quang last week told the National Assembly that he could not forecast when the heavily polluted environment at industrial parks (IPs) and rivers would be “re-greened”, because “it will need time and money” and the re-greening of the environment “depends on enterprises’ awareness.”

Quang said treating pollution at the country’s three major Cau, Nhue-Day and Dong Nai-Saigon river basins would come with a  VND10 trillion ($480.76 million) price tag.

“The cost is too big and we will have to seek support from the state budget and the international community. Our view is that we cannot sacrifice the environment for economic purposes at any price,” the minister stressed.

Many National Assembly delegates said dozens of millions of people in Vietnam were currently living in  contaminated environments.  

“If the environment continues to be polluted this way, we cannot forecast how national socio-economic development will be in the future,” said delegate representing Hanoi Bui Thi An.

National Assembly delegates pointed to 35 per cent out of Vietnam’s 283 IPs having no concentrated waste water treatment systems, while many IPs had poorly performing systems.

For example, the Lien Chieu, Hoa Khanh and Tho Quang IPs in Danang and Thuy Van IP in northern Phu Tho province were recently found to have been damaging the environment for years, despite having their own waste water treatment systems.

“We will continue inspecting this 35 per cent of IPs in terms of environmental protection tasks. If they have no well-equipped waste water treatment systems, these IPs will be banned from operation,” Quang said.

About 70 per cent of three million cubic metres of untreated waste water discharged every day from the IPs was emptied directly into the environment, according to the MoNRE. The World Bank warned that Vietnam’s heavy industrial environmental pollution annually cost 5.5 per cent of Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“Industrial environmental pollution will continue taking a bigger toll of the economy and people’s lives, given the country’s careless industrial development without taking environmental protection into account seriously,” said delegate Le Dinh Khanh from Hai Duong province.

Articles 24 of the draft Law on Fine Imposition, expected to be ratified this week, stipulates that the maximum fine level for environmental violation is VND2 billion ($96,600), a four-fold rise against the current maximum fine in the existing Ordinance of Fine Imposition.

Under the draft law, violators may also have their business certificates revoked for one or two years and foreign violators could be booted out of Vietnam.

By Thanh Thu

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