VietNamNet Bridge - Illegal sand exploitation has become hotter than ever, with many beautiful rivers becoming huge sand mining fields.


Photos of large pipes from pumps thrust deeply into the riverbed have been published in newspapers recently. Water resources are being polluted, and houses are sliding down into rivers.

Nguyen Ngoc Huong Lan in Bien Hoa City, pointing to a garden nearly sinking into a river, said in the past, her garden had extended to the riverbank. However, large-scale sand exploitation over many years has destroyed portions of the garden.

Nguyen Van Tam in Buu Hoa Ward also complained that his 1,500 square meter garden has become smaller because of landslides caused by sand exploitation.

Illegal sand exploitation has become hotter than ever, with many beautiful rivers becoming huge sand mining fields.
The fight against illegal sand exploiters has been a long-term struggle for municipal authorities and locals. 

A quick-reaction task force has been set up, equipped with necessary instruments to prevent and catch illegal exploiters. 

An officer of the taskforce said that exploiters usually work in groups of three to six boats, with five to six people on each boat, equipped with large-capacity absorbers.

Vu Ngoc Long, head of the Southern Institute of Ecology, said the sand exploitation on rivers will lead to changes in the ecosystem and the loss of self-protection mechanisms of the rivers. 

In principle, the ecosystem at river bottoms and coastal zones can clean the river. But the self-cleaning capability will no longer exist with massive sand exploitation.

A report said that in 2016, Dong Nai provincial agencies discovered 102 cases of illegal sand exploitation, and seized 48 boats, two sand sucking machines, eight pumps, 153 cubic meters of sand and VND860 million. 

However, local people said the punishment for violators did not deter them. Illegal exploiters still continue sucking sand from riverbeds, day and night, because the profits are too attractive.

Nguyen Tan Vinh, head of the Bien Hoa City’s environment sub-department, said the officers of the quick-reaction taskforce have to be on duty though the night to catch illegal exploiters. 

However, with the modest number of officers and poor equipment, the taskforce is faced with many difficulties.

An official of the Dong Nai provincial authorities said that illegal mineral exploiters are not subject to criminal proceedings. Therefore, exploiters would rather pay fines and continue the work, because the profits are much higher than the fines.