Twenty State enterprises and private companies have been engaging in a project organised by the Ha Noi Department of Construction to renovate lakes located in the capital city, but although some results have been achieved, not all residents are satisfied.
According to Doan Thanh Long, deputy director of the Ha Noi Construction Department, the project was aimed at achieving four objectives: putting an end to pollution by removing dirt and waste, improving the landscape thereby creating more green space, preventing people's encroachment on lakesides and preventing floods caused by rain in areas surrounding lakes.
Long said the project had so far received total funding of around VND300 billion (more than US$14.5 million) from enterprises. Some companies such as Vincom JSC and Civil Engineering Construction Corporation No. 5 had contributed dozens of billions of dong.
The Ministry of Construction identified 20 lakes that were most in need of work, and out of these lakes, eight had been finished, seven were under renovation and plans were being made for the remaining five.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the renovation project had helped improve the environment in areas surrounding lakes and prevented floods in the rainy season.
Long said that the project had achieved good results.
But while the authorities spoke quite highly of the results, the project does not seem to have satisfied everyone.
Nguyen Van Nguyen, a resident in Phuong Liet Ward in Thanh Xuan District who lives opposite Phuong Liet 2 Lake, said that he was not satisfied with the renovation, despite the fact the Department of Construction had announced that work had been completed.
Nguyen said that the work had helped beautify the landscape in the area with the construction of a new lakeside, installation of benches and planting of trees, but residents were still unhappy with the lake's unpleasant smell.
"The project only improved the situation by 50 per cent," he added.
Tran Thanh Hai, another resident living near the lake had the same opinion.
He said the water smelled even worse than before when fish were still living in the lake. Now there were no fish and the water had an unnatural green colour because of the use of chemicals.
Residents living near Vuc Lake in Long Bien District, another renovation project, also complained about the lake water, saying that it still had a disagreeable smell.
Nguyen Thu Hien, a resident living near the lake, said that the surroundings had improved but the water quality was still low.
According to the vice chairman of the Ecology Association, Mai Dinh Yen, the renovation of lakes had been well intended, but without scientific study that took into account ecological factors.
Yen said a natural lake should not just be a water container, it should also have living creatures and plants that sustain a clean lake through natural filtration and oxygenation.
He said the renovation project lacked the involvement of scientists and that was why the completed lakes failed to meet ecological standards.
"The project only works to solve immediate problems, but does not take into account sustainable development factors."
There have also been negative opinions raised by several newspapers about the slow renovation progress in some lakes, with some quoting residents' complaints about waiting too long.
Certain lakes were said to have been completed, but problems still remained regarding drainage and lakesides.
This fact was acknowledged by Long, citing land clearance and funding as the main difficulties.
One example is a project to construct a lakeside and plant trees around Ao ca bac Ho (Uncle Ho's fishpond) in central Hai Ba Trung District. The work has not started yet because 85 households will have to be relocated.
It seems that there is a long way to go until the project is properly completed, given all the problems and slow progress.
Long said the renovation of Ha Noi's central lakes could take a couple of years to complete, adding that "we might have to wait until 2020 to see all the capital's lakes clean and beautiful".
According to the Department of Construction, inner Ha Noi had a total of 111 lakes with a total area of 1,165ha.
Out of these, 46 had been cleaned and the previously stated 20 had been, or were going to be renovated. There have been no plans for the remainder.