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Pollution threatens Dong Nai River's future

HCM CITY — The Chairman of HCM City People's Committee, Le Hoang Quan, has asked relevant agencies in the city to cooperate with provincial authorities in the Dong Nai River Basin to restore the water quality in Dong Nai River to safeguard economic development.

Cargo vessels operating on the Dong Nai River. HCM City has asked relevant agencies to restore the water quality of the river to safeguard the economic development. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Phan.

If a combined effort isn't made, the resulting damage to the basin's socio-economic development would be severe, Quan told a conference to protect the river's water resources held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) on Saturday.

He said if action wasn't taken soon, investments in projects to protect the quality of water resources in Dong Nai River would be wasted.

The Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, Pham Khoi Nguyen, said the pollution of Dong Nai River would eventually result in economic stagnancy in 12 provinces and cities in the region.

The 586km Dong Nai River, with a basin covering 36,000 sq. km, provides water for household use and industry in these 12 provinces and cities.

Nguyen said provincial authorities must have tougher measures for production facilities which are polluting the river.

He asked provincial authorities to fine, forcably relocate, to temporarily or permanently close these facilities.

In the field of agricultural production, Nguyen asked provincial authorities to closely control the use of prohibited fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides.

Nguyen also encouraged the development of eco-farming and hi-tech agricultural production modes.

According to a report from the MNRE's Viet Nam Environment Administration, water in Dong Nai River is being seriously contaminated as large volumes of untreated wastewater is being discharged into the river by industrial manufacturers and households.

Hoang Duong Tung, director of the administration's Centre for Environment Monitoring, said in the report that the river was receiving 1.8 billion of cubic metres of industrial and household wastewater per day, but only 240.000 cu.m of the amount was properly treated.

Tung quoted a recent survey of industrial production in the river basin, saying that only 62 of the 97 operational industrial parks in the basin had central wastewater treatment facilities.

He said the remaining industrial parks didn't have wastewater facilities while many others didn't use theirs all the time.

The river basin is also encountering an increasing volume of household wastewater from residential areas developed along the river, but without properly urban wastewater facilities.To deal with the rising pollution of the river, MNRE is coordinating with provincial authorities to draft a decree banning or limiting the development of business and industrial activities that would pollute the river.

MNRE was urged by the Government to complete this draft decree by June next year.

The ministry has also urged provincial authorities to prepare their own plans for protection of the Dong Nai River Basin.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau has reported a plan to protect the river in the period 2010-2020 with total budget of VND714 billion (US$34 million).

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