Committee fails to tackle pollution in Dong Nai River

Five years since the Government established the Dong Nai River Environment Protection Committee to tackle the water pollution in the river, there is seemingly no improvement in the quality of the water so far.

Water quality of Dong Nai River affects 20 million residents living in the southern region (Photo: SGGP)

The status of the increasing water pollution in the Dong Nai River was reviewed at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City on November 11. 

The conference was chaired by Le Hoang Quan, chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee and also chairman of the Dong Nai River Environment Protection Committee or the Dong Nai River Committee, to review five years of the environment protection project for the Dong Nai River valley during the phase 2006-2012.

Nguyen Hoai Duc, deputy head of the Dong Nai River Committee, said that the river still remains badly polluted, especially where it flows near industrial and export processing zones, production units and densely populated areas. The pollution is worst in the lower reaches.

The pollution is being caused by household and production unit wastewater, which is released into the river without being treated properly. Solid waste is continually being dumped directly into the river.

River pollution is also being caused by mining in the upper reaches and shrinking of forest cover near localities, with priority being given to economic development. 

The Dong Nai River Committee was jointly established by 11 provinces and cities to resolve environment issues affecting all, but over the years there has been a lack of coordination to work in sync with each other, added Nguyen Hoai Duc.

Several schemes to improve the river water quality could not take off due to lack of funds. Some localities are still waiting for financial support from the Government, rather than use their own local budget.

Members of the committee are from ministries and departments from provinces and cities, who concurrently hold their position in the committee. This has not ensured implementation of the committee regulations.

Nguyen Thanh Nguyen, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee in Long An Province, said that the province has to work towards reducing water pollution in localities itself and not depend on the committee.

Tran Ngoc Thoi, deputy chairman of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, said that environment pollution has not abated in the last five years as the role of the Dong Nai River Committee has not been clearly defined.

If environment pollution continues, the water quality of the Dong Nai River will badly impact 20 million residents living along the river, he said.

Nguyen The Phuong, deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, said that the current economic crisis has caused difficulties in allocation of budget for many environment projects.

As a result, the ministry asked provinces and cities to effectively use the one percent State budget which is allotted to localities to improve the environment, and mobilize the rest from the private sector.

Chairman Quan said that tackling environment pollution is quite expensive and one percent of the State budget is far too inadequate.

Bui Cach Tuyen, deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and deputy chairman of the Dong Nai River Committee, has promised to propose to the Government to deal with this issue at the earliest.

Delegates at the meeting agreed to vote the chairman of the People’s Committee of Binh Duong Province as chairman of the Dong Nai River Committee for a second term, until 2017.

By A.Van – Translated by Hai Mien

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