Last update: 21:47 | 17/07/2017
VietNamNet Bridge – Severe landslides along the Dong Nai River have forced the provinces of Dong Nai and Lam Dong to suspend all sand mining activities, including those by licensed projects.
Severe landslides along the Dong Nai River have forced the provinces of Dong Nai and Lam Dong to suspend all sand mining activities, including those by licensed projects.– Photo tuoitre.vn
The two provinces that the longest inland river flows through have witnessed the most hectic sand mining activities in the country.
The order to halt sand mining holds good for three months starting July 5.
The Dong Nai and Lam Dong administrations have said the temporary stop will be used to reassess remaining sand reserves in the Dong Nai and Da Quay rivers as well as the environmental status of the river banks that have been hard hit by landslides in recent years.
It is evident that overexploitation of sand in the Dong Nai River has deformed the riverbed, which has changed the water flow and hence eroded river banks, with hundreds of thousands of square metres of soil falling into the river.
According to a report by the Lam Dong People’s Committee, landslides on the Dong Nai riverbanks affected at least 11.75ha in Cat Tien District alone, with more than 107,500sq.m of soil disappearing in Quang Ngai Commune, while Phuoc Cat 1 and Phuoc Cat 2 communes have lost more than 1,200sq.m and 8,800sq.m respectively.
Meanwhile, the Dong Nai Department of Natural Resources and Environment, has said that upstream sections of the Dong Nai River flowing through Tan Phu District and the Cat Tien National Park have been suffering worsening landslides. About 14ha of river banks was lost have been lost so far.
The Lam Dong People’s Committee had previously granted 16 sand mining licences along the Dong Nai River in Da Teh and Cat Tien districts.
Local authorities allowed the exploiters to mine up to 78,600 cubic metres of sand a year along the 19.72km-long section flowing through Da Teh. On the same section of the river, the Dong Nai People’s Committee also licensed the Phu Xuan Industrial Co-operative to exploit a total of 218,000 cubic metres until 2025.
A similar fate has been suffered by another Dong Nai River section flowing 32.3km through Cat Tien District.
Nine licences were given to five mining units and an individual in Lam Dong to exploit up to 95,100 cubic metres of river sand.
The Dong Nai People’s Committee, however, also granted a license to the Dong Nai Transportation Structure Company to mine more than 917,000 cubic metres on the same river section by 2024.
To make matters worse, neighbouring Binh Phuoc Province allowed another company to mine nearly 312,000 cubic metres of sand until the end of next year.
And these damning figures do not include the ubiquitous illegal sand mining that happens in the area.
While the havoc wreaked by landslides have pushed the Dong Nai and Lam Dong administrations to reduce their mining, there has been no dent in the over-exploitation because there has been no inspection or monitoring of the situation.
The two provinces have finally resorted to a temporary ban on all mining activities and agreed not to grant any licenses in the meantime.
If the ban is enforced and illegal mining is dealt with effectively, the Dong Nai River can get some breathing space for the next few months.
But whether the destruction will resume depends on how serious the authorities really are about saving the river for succeeding generations of residents.