A number of companies dredging sand along the Cạn River in the central province of Khanh Hoa’s Cam Ranh City since 2015 have caused landslides and put the lives of local residents in danger.
Illegal sand mining on rivers increases risk of landslides to riverside residental areas.
A reporter from the Labour newspaper witnessed trucks working at the lower reaches of the Can River, near Hiep Thanh Village, Cam Thinh Dong Commune.
Sand was gathered into large heaps after being sucked from the river bed.
Since the Trung Hậu Investment and Development Trading Services Joint Stock Company, the Đại Cát Trading and Services Co Ltd and the Cát Khánh Investment and Services Co Ltd were licensed to exploit sand from the Cạn River three years ago, the river has suffered an increasing amount of damage. Landslides occurred along the river.
The licences were signed by former chairman of the Khánh Hòa Province People’s Committee Nguyễn Chiến Thắng.
Living besides the Cạn River for several dozen years and earning his living from coconut trees and chili plants, Đoàn Quan Đang, 49, said that the Cạn River used to be very nice.
But since the activities of the enterprises, landslides have become more and more frequent and the damage has worsened.
Now the area affected by the landslides reached several kilometres in length, he said.
Đang lost about three metres of land, and several others are facing high risk of being swept away.
Lê Văn Trung, deputy chairman of the Cam Thịnh Đông Commune Fatherland Front Committee, said that local authorities had their hands tied, and help was needed from the press and the higher authorities.
Trung said that five mango trees he had planted in 1982 with strong roots had been swept away.
Trung said that since last year, different inspection teams had checked and issued warnings to the enterprises, but could not solve the problem entirely, as the enterprises had received valid licences from provincial authorities.
One of the most serious problems, Trung said, was that the part of the river near the Cạn Bridge had been significantly damaged.
“If the enterprises continue their work, the bridge’s foundations will become unstable and be at risk of collapse,” he said.
Deputy chairman of the Cam Thịnh Đông Commune People’s Committee Bạch Văn Sửu said that local authorities did not have any benefits from the sand exploitation.
Even local residents see little benefit from the activity, as the companies involved sell the sand for construction work. Residents turn to local authorities when the ensuing landslides destroy their plants.
A report by the Cam Thịnh Đông Commmune People’s Committee released this year said that the enterprises did not follow regulations on dredging, including the duration, location and depth, causing landslides along the river that seriously impact residents’ agricultural and forestry land.
According to the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s inspection on May 17 last year, the Đại Cát Trading and Services Co Ltd dredged sand outside the area permitted.
Receiving reports from residents and commune authorities, on March 20 this year, deputy chairwoman of the Cam Ranh City People’s Council Võ Thị Kim Thoa signed a letter asking the Cam Ranh City People’s Committee and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to strengthen inspections and punish any cases of violations.
The Lao Động (Labour) newspaper’s correspondent tried to contact Võ Tấn Thái, director of the provincial Department of Natural Resouces and Environment, but he was unavailable for comment.