Local residents feel worried when seeing the dredgers that operate right on the dyke footing, which has caused serious landslide. However, local authorities still keep a deaf ear on the problem.
Sand exploitation becomes bread earner
Going along the Lo River’s dyke from the 17th kilometer landmark in Tu Da commune to the 33rd kilometer landmark in Ha Giap commune of Phu Ninh district, one would see hundreds of operational sand exploitation vessels.
Before exploiting sand, the vessels use big capacity excavators to scoop the alluvial soil along the dyke, then put it into big lighters and absorb sand with specific machines.
At night, tens of dredgers with high capacity still operate, lighting up the river. A worker here said that a dredger can exploit 100 cubic meters of sand every hour. As such, a dredger can bring the huge profit of tens of millions of dong, after deducting the exploitation costs. The attractive profit has encouraged more and more people to join the sand exploitation activities.
Due to the overexploitation, the environment has become seriously polluted, while local residents have lost means of subsistence.
Nguyen Thi Thanh, a local resident in Tu Da commune, said that in the past, the alluvial soil was very large, while people could freely grow peanuts and corns, which could bring them a life of comfort. However, they have recently lost the means of subsistence, when the alluvial soil got eroded seriously.
“A lot of corn and peanut fields disappeared overnight, and farmers’ cultivation efforts were in vain,” Thanh said.
The sand exploitation vessels have not only damaged the alluvial area, but they have also turned the area near the irrigation embankments into a sand exploitation site.
Dao Trong Truong, a farmer in Ha Giap commune, said that on daylight, the vessels run in the middle of the river, but in the evening, they enter the shore.
“My corn field once was very large, but it has been narrowed,” he complained.
Local authorities powerless
Cao Tien Hung, Head of the inland waterway management station in Viet Tri City, said that he knows about the illegal sand exploitation. However, he said that it is not easy to punish the illegal exploiters. When inspectors arrived in the site, they only saw the vessels sitting idle. As they could not catch red handed, they could not punish them. Meanwhile, the ships mainly operate at night.
Also according to Hung, local authorities have not granted any license on sand exploitation on the river.
However, in fact, when Lao dong’s reporters arrived in the sand exploitation site at noon March 15, they could see three big dredgers exploiting sand in the open air.
When the reporters reported the sand exploitation activities in the daylight, Hung said that in order to settle the illegal sand exploitation, it is necessary to ask for the permission from the authorities of higher levels, or set up inter-ministerial taskforce.
Meanwhile, Vu Minh Ly, Chair of the Tu Da commune people’s committee, said that the local officers many times failed to arrest the illegal exploiters. When the taskforce rushed in, the exploiters drove the vessels to the mid river, while local officers do not have waterway vehicles to run after them.
Source: Lao dong