Radical measures required in resolving pollution problems

As a result of a meeting with residents living near the Industrial Zone in Binh Chanh District on September 9, a probe has been ordered by the deputy chairman of the city people’s committee.

A dirty water canal flowing through the Le Minh Xuan Industrial Zone ( Photo: SGGP)

Nguyen Huu Tin, Deputy Chairman of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City has ordered a thorough probe into the matter and harsh penalties and fines on the culprits responsible for polluting residential areas around the Le Minh Xuan Industrial Zone in Binh Chanh District.

The Ho Chi Minh City Export Processing and Industrial Zone Authority (Hepza) said that in accordance with the law and regulations issued in 1997, only when 75 percent of an industrial zone is occupied, does the management need to build a waste water treatment factory!

With such an outdated regulation, it is no wonder that pollution has become a serious issue in Le Minh Xuan Industrial Zone (LMXIZ) even though everything is in accordance with the law!

Adding to the already unbearable situation, the Le Minh Xuan small handicraft zone nearby is also adding to the pollution.

As opposed to 159 companies within the 100 hectare area of LMXIZ, the small handicraft zone is only 17 hectares but accommodates an astonishing 127 companies.

This density and old-fashioned facilities in these companies are also increasing pollution levels. All company owners would rather pay a fine and continue wrongdoings regardless, than invest in waste water treatment facilities or exhaust fume treatment systems.

Unfortunately it becomes even more difficult to pin point the actual culprit. One cannot then term this area as a ‘hot spot for pollution’ in the city or as Pham Van Dong, Chairman of the HCMC Economic and Budget Commission commented that city areas are prohibited and therefore all the sewage discharge is being dumped in the outskirts!

Such a complicated situation certainly requires sound and logical solutions. The city should move residential groups away from industrial zones while planting more trees to create a ‘Green Belt’ to help reduce pollution. The next step would be to invest in updating treatment facilities in factories for exhaust fumes, solid and liquid waste.

The authorities should also aid small businesses in building proper treatment systems or suggest renting of such facilities if necessary to increase efficiency and save costs.

It is essential to amend outdated laws to be more effective, especially extending of penalties. For instance, companies should be deprived of business licenses when they violate the law more than three times.

Local governments have to regularly dredge mud and waste from rivers and canals to lessen stagnant pollution.

In addition, industrial zone management authorities should rearrange residential areas for employees, by providing clean water and waste treatment facilities.

Only by the application of improved methods can the city truly improve its quality of living.

By Luong Thien – Translated by Thanh Tam

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