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Public needs to be given right to monitor the environment in Vietnam

If the regulations on environmental impact assessment (EIA) are not strict enough and the role of citizens in monitoring the environment cannot be appreciated, environmental scandals will reoccur, experts have warned.

The draft of the law on several articles of the Environmental Protection Law, compiled by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE), has been opened for public opinion before its submission to the National Assembly.



Under the draft law, investors of projects subject to compulsory EIA must organize preliminary assessment of environmental impact and take responsibility before law for these results.

As for the formal EIA assessment, the project owners will implement the EIA themselves or hire consultancy organizations to implement EIA, and take legal responsibility for the results of the assessments.

Dao Trong Tu, Head of Vietnam River Network (VRN) Management Board, and Deputy Director of the centre for sustainable development of water resources and adaptation to climate change (CEWAREC), reiterated the important role of EIA in ensuring environmental protection when implementing projects.

As for the formal EIA assessment, the project owners will implement the EIA themselves or hire consultancy organizations to implement EIA, and take legal responsibility for the results of the assessments.

He said because of many existing problems in EIA, environmental scandals have occurred, including the Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A hydropower projects and Lee Man paper mill. 

Scientists and experts have suggested amending the regulations on allowing project owners to implement EIA themselves. However, the opinion has not been taken into consideration.

“The EIA will not be unbiased if project investors implement EIA themselves or hire consultancy organizations to implement EIA. The organizations to be hired will not be independent if they receive money from investors,” Tu said.

The investors of Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A projects hired a university to carry out EIA for them. The university gave an assessment that could offer benefits to investors.

Therefore, Tu believes that it would be better to establish a fund for EIA which is put under state management. Third parties will be hired to carry out EIA to ensure independence and objectivity.

Some experts have praised the provisions of the draft law which emphasize the important role of citizens' supervision. However, they pointed out that the provisions on the issue need to be more precise.

GreenID commented that the draft law still cannot solve the problem – the lack of a detailed legal framework for people to participate in environmental activity monitoring.

The Law on Access to Information and the Law on Environmental Protection (2014) stipulate that people have the right to request information. However, in the draft law, there are no regulations mentioning the responsibility of related subjects to information exposure.

It is unclear through which channels people can express their opinions. 

Thien Nhien


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