Rampant sand mining poses threat of erosion
  • By Pham Tam | dtinews.vn | February 13, 2013 06:51 PM

Local people living near the Tien River in Dong Thap Province have been facing the threat of landslides and the other bad effects of erosion as a result of individuals and firms who have flocked there to dredge sand.


Ships exploiting sand on Tien River

This problem became serious after the local authorities re-issued permits for sand exploitation. Construction materials companies often choose to exploit sand on the section of the river in Thuong Phuoc Commune. The sand there is said to have great quality.

As a result, Thuong Phuoc Commune has now identified seven locations where erosion is evident. After four homes were destroyed as a result of this erosion in October 2012 authorities decided to relocate other 500 houses nearby. But they have yet to find a resettlement area. 

Many districts in Dong Thap Province have also been a target for sand mining companies as well as individuals. 

Dong Thap Department of Natural Resources and Environment only issued 12 permits for sand mining and three permits for dredging, totaling about 60 exploiting ships. In reality, however, over 100 ships and boats have been working the river.

"Now only residential areas, which are banned from the activity, have quality sand. Miners often descend on these areas en masse to exploit sand," an employee of a construction company in Dong Thap Province said.

Ly Minh Hau, a local said that at night the ships search for sand near residential areas despite regulations which state that the ships must stay 150 metres offshore. 


A fish farm destroyed by erosion

The local Department of Natural Resources and Environment discovered a number of holes around 26 metres deep, double the river's depth. Rampant sand exploitation was also blamed for flooding in late 2011 and early 2012 which swept away many houses and caused serious damage. Some locals have resorted to using gasoline to fight off the ships that illegally come too close to their areas of residence. 

Around 11,000 households in the Mekong Delta are facing threats from erosion caused by sand exploitation. The miners, however, show no intentions of stopping, as they can earn profits as high as VND50-70 million per day (USD2,400-3,400).

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