The landslide in Da Lat on June 28

Several days ago, terrible landslide occurred on Hoang Hoa Tham street in ward 10 in Da Lat City after a heavy rain that lasted three hours, burying and killing two workers. Hundreds of tons of rocks and soil fell on people’s houses and workers’ camps.

Just days before that, a 30-minute rain inundated Da Lat in many places. The most seriously inundated areas were Cam Ly stream, Phan Dinh Phung, Quang Trung, Da Thien and Ha Dong. Water flooded a series of key routes in Tran Quoc Toan, Bui Thi Xuan, Cach Mang Thang Tam, Flower Garden of Da Lat and Golf Valley Da Lat. 

Agencies had to evacuate people and assets from the flooded areas.

The situation has repeatedly occurred in Da Lat in recent years. The city is seriously inundated every time it rains. And landslides have occurred recently. A Dat Lat resident of 30 years said water flooded into houses so quickly that people did not have time to put furnishings in higher places. 

He said in the past houses stayed safe no matter how heavily it rained, but now, streets  turn into rivers if it rains and the water flows quickly like a flash flood. Many friends of his were worried about the flood and called to ask him if they should cancel tourism plans to Da Lat.

Da Lat is located 1,500 meters higher than sea water level. With mountain slopes, steep hills, forest flora surrounded by streams and lakes, water drainage in Da Lat should be more favorable than in many other areas.

The problem lies in the unreasonable management policy of the city and urban development programming.

Da Lat has been densely concretized, while urbanization has become out of control. The encroached natural space and lowlands have led to the narrowing of water current and seepage places. Streams, lakes and the space in front of sidewalks have also been filled up.

Most of the routes in the central area have been used for commercial purposes with hotels, guesthouses and restaurants having arisen together with semi-detached houses, 4-5 meters wide. These have turned into two dykes that contain water when it rains.

Many pine tree hills and natural architectural landscapes have been cleared to give way to concrete works. Cu Hill, 71.5 hectares large, has been turned into a golf course and a 7-storey complex.

The central area has become full of construction works. The green space at Dinh Hill, of 4.43 hectares, which has existed since 1910 and is associated with Da Lat’s history, was listed among items for special conservation.  This will be a place for a complex including a 10-storey hotel, restaurant and shopping center in the future.

Da Lat was warned about the shortage of water for daily use. And now, it also suffers from traffic jams.

People who visit Da Lat can witness the chaotic traffic in the city, with traffic congestion on many streets, loud car horns and black smoke from old vehicles, especially on holidays. Visitors no longer feel the peace and romance that Da Lat once had in the past.

Dat Lat has a natural area of 393 square kilometers. More than 90 years ago, a French architect who programmed Dat Lat development warned that the underground and surface water was only enough for 120,000 people. In 2020, the population reached 620,000-650,000. 

In Vietnam, many localities have been taking unwise decisions in development and they have had to pay a heavy price, losing natural landscapes and suffering from pollution.

Floods not only occur in Da Lat but also in the highlands of Ha Giang and Sa Pa, and even on the island of Phu Quoc.

Developing cities does not mean building concrete works. Da Lat can develop with no need to damage greenery, change landscapes, architecture or natural heritage sites.