Environment
Illegal mineral exploitation major source of problems in Phu Tho
  • By Anh The - Thanh Vinh | dtinews.vn | October 25, 2013 11:55 AM
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Rampant illegal exploitation of minerals have been contaminating dozens of thousands of square metres of agricultural land, harming the environment in Phu Tho Province.

  

Substandard mineral exploitation results in serious consequences 

Despite having not construction license issued and failing to declare documents of environmental protection plans and mine designs, Viet Phu Tho Mineral Investment and Trading Limited Company has been operating in mineral exploitation in Van Luong Commune, Tan Son District.

Their misconducts were not discovered until the overflow of stone and soil from its deposits from the dam in Dep and Lung Highlands Hamlets, Van Luong Commune. Residents of these areas sent a petition to authorities, who then investigated and found several wrongdoings.

According to residents, since the company started operations in 2010, their lives have been seriously affected by noise and air pollution on a daily basis. Their livelihood was seriously affected after seasonal storms with the most serious case happening in 2011.

“After the fifth typhoon to hit Vietnam in 2011 ravaged though my village, a lot mud and soil from the company’s dam flowed into our field from the Dong Tram and Dong Quan streams, harming local rice production,” said a local woman from Dep Village.

A report by Van Luong communal People’s Committee showed that the incident destroyed 47,638 square metres of rice fields in Dep and Lung villages, causing major loss to local farmers.

After being urged by local residents, the company pledged to give compensation to those who were affected by the incident but they did not.

Recently, the company has agreed to compensate for VND150,000 (USD7.09) per 360 square metres. Seven of the families that were hardest hit were provided with a combined of VND2.5 million (USD118.3). However, locals have come out and said the sums were too modest compared to their losses.

Nguyen Thiet Hai, Vice Chairman of the communal People’s Committee said, “The company was not only slow in paying compensations to locals but also in upgrading its dam.”

On May 14, local authorities in Tan Son District probed into the case and found that the company was not granted a construction license, but continued to exploit minerals for three years. The company also failed to declare contracts to treat hazardous waste.

The provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment said that this is not a unique case in the province.

Locals of Tan Minh Commune, Thanh Son District, have continued to complained about crop destruction and environmental pollution caused by Phu Duc Mineral JSC. Mud and waste soil from the mineral exploitation buried 4,300 square metres of cultivation land of 17 local households.

The provincial government forced the company to halt their mineral exploitation in Tan Minh Commune and provided compensation of over VND134 million (USD6,340) to the affected families.

Local authorities in Yen Lap District recently inspected three stone mines by Thang Loi Limited Company, Phu Tho Mineral JSC and Dat Hung JSC, and found that they have violated the laws, including polluting the environment and destroying transportation infrastructure.

The provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment then conducted an inspection over 487 mineral exploitation facilities and fined 205 facilities a combined VND3.6 billion (USD170,333). Five companies have had their licenses revoked for causing serious environmental pollution.

The provincial government has requested that local authorities increase control over mineral exploitation and apply strict punishments on cases in which there is a violation.

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