|Xuan Tai Company in the Highland province of Kon Tum was fined VND40 million ($1,769) for illegal sand exploitation. — Photo thiennhien.net|
KON TUM — Xuan Tai Company in the Highland province of Kon Tum was fined VND40 million ($1,769) for illegal sand exploitation, said Chief Inspector of the Department of Environment and Natural Resource Tran Cong Hau yesterday.
According to the department, the company was fined VND8 million for encroaching the Dak Bla River and VND32 million for illegally mining 3,507m3 of sand over an eight-month period.
A report from the Kon Tum Department of Mineral Resources and Environment said the Xuân Tài Co Ltd had used mechanised facilities to dig holes and build embankments to stop the flow of the Đăk Bla River in order to illegally exploit minerals,
The 100-metre long, 5-metre wide and 2-metre high embankment built across the Đắk Bla River in Đăk Rơ Wa Commune and Thắng Lợi Ward of Kon Tum City can allow trucks to cross the river.
Mechanised facilities are used to mine sand and gravel by Xuân Tài Co. at a site not far from the newly built embankment, according to the report issued recently.
Đỗ Xuân Tài, CEO of Xuân Tài Co, said last week that construction of the embankment did not have an impact on the environment. “The embankment will not cause erosion of the (river) banks, but can help local residents get to the fields on the opposite bank without crossing the river,” said Tài.
Tài told Người Lao Động (Labourer) newspaper that he would give back the site to the Government if Xuân Tài Co’s operation was “discovered and stopped” by authorities.
However, K’Dân H’Je, a resident in Đăk Rơ Wa Commune, said the embankment had diverted a section of the river and turned it into a “dead” river.
According to Kon Tum’s Department of Mineral Resources and Environment, Xuân Tài Co has illegally dug holes and built embankments to divert the flow of Đăk Bla River when it had not received a licence for the operation. The mining site under Xuân Tài’s operation is nearly 300 metres on the upper section of the licenced site.
Kon Tum provincial authorities have also asked Xuân Tài Co to suspend its operation at the site and to repair the damages. The company was told to cooperate with government agencies and households that had lost farmland because of sand mining.
On May 15, the company destroyed an embankment which separates the Đak Bla River in order to rehabilitate the flow of the river.
Despite the illegal sand mining, which has occurred for years, Nguyễn Văn Hùng, chairman of Thắng Lợi Ward People’s Committee, said he did not hear about the illegal operations until after the recent inspection conducted by delegates of Kon Tum People’s Council.
Meanwhile, the head of Kon Tum City’s Division of Mineral Resources and Environment, Đào Duy Hà, said local authorities and relevant agencies must be responsible for these wrongdoings. – VNS