Locals have publicly condemned the inaction of local authorities as concerns increase over the damage being done to Nui Coc Reservoir by sand dredging activities.
Sand dredging activities in Thai Nguyen
Many households living in Tan Thai, Luc Ba and Binh Thuan communes illegally extracted sand from Nui Coc Reservoir in the past, forcing the authorities in Thai Nguyen Province to establish a management board in 2010.
After the management board was set up, the situation greatly improved.
However, last year, the province allowed the Dai Viet Company to dredge the lake and collect and sell sand recovered from the operation. According to the authorities, there were insufficient funds and the province couldn’t cover the VND100 billion (USD4.7 million) price tag for the work so the firm was given the right to sell sand from the dredging.
However, local people are accusing the Dai Viet Company of exploiting the lake and ignoring the potentially catastrophic effect on the environment. The company is targeting 11 million tonnes of sand and minerals to be extracted from the reservoir, valued at around VND900 billion, much higher than the initial 100 billion the work would have cost.
Nguyen Thanh Tuan, deputy director of Thai Nguyen Department of Environment and Natural Resources admitted ignorance over the amount of sand and minerals Dai Viet had already exploited or the amount of environmental levies the firm was due to pay. The department had raised no environmental objections despite the scale of Dai Viet's plans for the reservoir.
Nui Coc Reservoir is one of Thai Nguyen’s most popular destinations. Its waters are also used for hydropower generation by a small power station and provide water for over 12,000 hectares of agricultural land.