Illegal sand mining in the Sai Gon River section between HCM City and Tay Ninh Province to the north-west has caused severe erosion of the river's banks, including farmland in Cu Chi District.
Illegal sand mining in the Sai Gon River
The section has been illegally mined for so long that more than 76km of the river's banks in Cu Chi have been seriously eroded, according to Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper.
Dykes built against high tides and farming lands along the banks have also been lost to erosion.
Sau Hoa, a farmer in Cho Cu 2 hamlet in Cu Chi, said his family has lost 1,500 square metres of rice fields.
They were growing paddy as recently as the last winter-spring rice crop, Hoa said.
"My fruit orchard has developed many 20cm-wide cracks along the ground and is in danger of being washed away into the river at any time," he lamented.
Dozens of neighbouring farmers too face the same plight.
For the last few years the affected families have been petitioning local authorities and other competent agencies to stop the illegal sand mining but to no avail.
Nguyen Van Teo, deputy chairman of the An Nhon Tay Commune People's Committee, said the committee educated local residents against participating in mining activities, created jobs for poor people, chased away miners, and sought help from Cu Chi District authorities, he said.
He blamed it on jurisdiction issues, explaining that since the river was located between Cu Chi and communes in Tay Ninh and Binh Duong Provinces, several different agencies were involved.
Nguyen Thanh Nguyen, head of the district Natural Resources and Environment Bureau, said the bureau in co-operation with the economic police patroled the area one or two times a week to prevent the mining.
But there were few inspectors while the mining was sophisticated and the area had many canals that provided a haven for fleeing miners, he said.
His agency plans to co-operate with relevant authorities in Binh Duong and Tay Ninh and the city environment police to take drastic measures to stop the activity.