Prolonged drought damages farming production


The heat wave sweeping across the central and central highlands has withered thousands of hectares of sugarcane, coffee, and rice crops.

Binh Son District in Quang Ngai Province has lost 252 hectares of rice. Several farmers have fed the withered crops to cattle.

Because it has not rained for a month, we are forced to pump water from ponds every two days to water our crops, said farmer Doan Tan Minh.

Thach Ban reservoir level has fallen to 17 meters, 1.5 meters lower than last year in Duy Xuyen District, Quang Nam Province.

The Tu Cau pumping station in Dien Ngoc Commune, Dien Ban District has experienced salt penetration in the previous 10 days which is ruining the 100-hectare rice field.

Quang Ngai has spent VND7.1 billion (US$337,000)  to dredge canals, install more pumping stations, and dam up embankments to prevent salt intrusion.

Similar measures have also been conducted in Quang Nam Province. Local authorities have spent VND1.7 billion (US$ 81,000) to dam up the embankment on Vinh Dien River to hold saltwater back.

The embankment is expected to complete by March 20 to provide water for Vinh Dien Water Plant and thousands of hectares of rice. The plant has stopped operation for the last month creating a water shortage in thousands of households.

Several mobile pumping stations have functioned along Thu Bon River to supply water for fields away from canals.

In the central highlands, farmer Tran Anh Tuan’s family has desperately carried each pail of water to irrigate their coffee field in Dak Ha District, Kon Tum Province.

Farmers are unable to complete cultivation of the winter spring crop due to water shortage in An Khe town, Gia Lai Province.

The drought has killed nearly 700 hectares of rice and maize plants in Dak Lak Province. Another 1,500 hectares are in danger of complete loss. Total damage caused by drought has reached VND40 billion (US$1.9 million).

Thirty seven provinces are in danger of forest fire with the most vulnerable being Binh Phuoc, Dong Nai, Khanh Hoa, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Lam Dong, Son La and Tay Ninh, according to Forest Management Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

A/H1N1 flu-infected cases on the rise

The Central Hospital for Tropical Diseases has recently admitted a significant number of seriously ill patients suffering from A/H1N1 flu, said Nguyen Trung Cap, Deputy Head of the Emergency Department.

On March 16 alone, the department received two patients suffering symptoms of severe acute respiratory illness, which was diagnosed as A/H1N1 influenza.

Notably, family members of the infected patients had been in contract with others infected with the A/H1N1 flu, providing prima facie evidence that the virus is readily spreading from person to person.

Cap said that since February, wet and humid weather has contributed to a shortened incubation period and enhanced the spread of the influenza virus. Each day, the hospital is admitting three to four new cases from differing provinces in the country.

In January, more than 40 pupils from one boarding school in Hanoi also contracted A/H1N1 flu.

To prevent the spread of the disease, Dr Cap warned people to wash hands with soap and water regularly, avoid putting hands on the eyes or nose and cover the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

People should report to the hospital emergency clinics immediately in the event of any symptoms of high fever or severe acute respiratory illness. 

Gambling ring faces trial in Bac Ninh

The People's Court in the northern province of Bac Ninh yesterday heard a trial for 86 individuals facing illegal gambling charges.

According to the five-day long trial, Duong Anh Duc, 50, from the northern province of Bac Giang, and Khuat Thi Huong, 48, from Bac Ninh, were caught red-handed together at a massage parlour with another 102 individuals, engaged in illegal gambling.

Among the findings seized by police, included more than VND5.8 billion ($281,000) in cash, 69 cell phones, and two tablets.

According to evidence heard in the trial, Duc and Huong had collaborated in organising the gambling ring since October, 2012.

Vietnam-Japan College to be established

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on March 17 approved the establishment of the Vietnam-Japan College under the Vietnam National University in Hanoi.

The school will cover 100 hectares at the Hoa Lac High-Tech Park in the capital.

Its construction and operation will be mostly funded through official development assistance provided by the Japanese Government.

When operational, the university is expected to train 6,000 students, including 2,400 postgraduates, in 10 years.

Vietnam calls for int’l efforts against drugs

Deputy Minister of Public Security, Sen. Lieut. Gen. Le Quy Vuong, has warned that the production and sale of amphetamine substances is becoming more sophisticated, allowing the psychoactive drug to spread widely.

Speaking at the 57th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which opened in the Austrian capital Vienna on March 13, General Vuong called on the international community to better support countries confronted with the issue on a basis of constructive dialogue, equality, and respect of independence.

He said the Government of Vietnam has adopted an active, comprehensive and balanced approach to fighting drug abuse, focusing on preventive acts and awareness campaigns to appeal for public involvement.

Vietnam is always a responsible UN member, actively joining foreign peers in anti-crime and anti-drug efforts at bilateral and multilateral forums, Vuong added.

UN Deputy Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yuri Fedotov, in his opening remarks, said UNODC and its member states are combating drug abuse via support schemes and integrated solutions on law, health care and development.

He asked for active feedback in preparation for the UN General Assembly’s special session on drugs in 2016.

With nearly 1,000 delegates from UN member countries and non-governmental organisations, this year’s session focused on reviewing the implementation of the previously agreed Plan of Action. The strategy has focused on enforcing international conventions against money laundering, illicit drug abuse and trafficking and judicial cooperation.

On the occasion, Vietnam and member countries of the Mekong Sub-region anti-drug cooperation agreement held an exhibition and symposium introducing what the region has achieved during its fight against dangerous substances.

Established in 1946, the commission is part of the UN Economic and Social Council, in charge of policymaking relevant to the prevention and control of drugs, narcotics and precursors.

The session will run until March 21 with the adoption of a ministerial-level Joint Declaration.

Japan funds Binh Duong public transport system

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide low-interest loans or non-refundable aid for technical assistance as part of a project improving the capacity of public transport in the southern province of Binh Duong.

The concrete sum is yet to be unveiled, according to Deputy Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Thanh Liem on March 17.

JICA and Japan’s Tokyu Group will take charge of technical assistance for the Japan-style transport network, in which Binh Duong will launch an eco-friendly bus route linking Thu Dau Mot city and Binh Duong new city, and a metro line connecting My Phuoc and Tan Van, running through Ben Cat, Di An and Thuan An communes.

The project is meant to promote the use of public transport, towards turning Binh Duong into an environmentally-friendly province, Liem added.

Vietnam to host 10th ASEAN Skills Competition

More than 280 contestants from ASEAN countries will participate in the tenth ASEAN Skills Competition which will take place in Vietnam in October, reported a press conference on March 17.

Three technical meetings will be organized before the contest. The first meeting will be held in Hanoi from March 17-22 and focus on putting forth exam questions to raise contestants’ awareness and ensure applicants have the necessary knowledge and skills.

The host nation in particular should meet the competition requirements in terms of facilities, materials, and space for contestants to compete and perform their skills to best advantage.

General Department of Vocational Training Deputy Head Cao Van Sam affirmed that Vietnam will organize a national skill contest to select the most outstanding contestants to compete at the upcoming ASEAN Skills Competition.

Vietnam, RoK promote cyber security cooperation

Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army, Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan has received Chul Hi Yu, Deputy Director of Information Planning Division under the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of National Defense on a working visit to Vietnam.

At a March 17 reception for Chul Hi Yu briefed his host on the results of the working session with the Vietnam Ministry of Defence’s Information Technology Department, saying that cyber security has greatly affected both nation’s military secrets and economic development.

The Korean guest said his nation is experienced in coping with these threats. In recent years, the RoK has cooperated with Pacific nations in the field of cyber security.

The RoK pledges its best efforts to help Vietnam become a model nation in protecting national defense cyber security, he added.

Lieutenant General Tuan said that there should be a detailed plan for bilateral cooperation focusing on human resources development to meet requirements for cyber security.

HCM City heatwave triggers spike in digestive, respiratory ills

Hospitals reported an increase in admissions for respiratory and digestive ailments last week as temperatures climbed to 35-38 degrees Celsius.

Temperatures as high as 36-38 degrees Celsius are expected for the southern region, including the border with Cambodia, by late April or early May, according to the Southern Region Hydro-meteorological Centre.

Paediatrics Hospital No.1 reported admitting 250 inpatients with digestive problems each day over the last four weeks. Most of them had diarrhoea caused by food poisoning and digestive ailments.

Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital said it had admitted 30-70 patients with diarrhoea and inflammatory bowel disease over the same period.

Tran Ngoc Luu Phuong, the ward's deputy head, told Phu Nu (Women) newspaper that hot weather was a breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria to easily develop in food and water.

Last weekend Pediatric Hospital No. 2 admitted 205 children with pneumonia, and 22 of them were in serious condition, with some in the intensive care ward.

Dr Tran Thi Thu Loan, head of the hospital's respiratory diseases ward, said the hot weather had contributed to the increase in cases.

Respiratory ailments are common among children under five years old, she said, adding that most cases were not serious, but parents should not delay treatment.

If children do not feel better after three days of treatment, parents should take the child to a doctor again and try another drug and have an X-ray taken, she added.

Tunnels become underground rubbish dumps in Hanoi

Many tunnels in Hanoi have become littered, covering with water and rubbish, with those on newly-built National Highway 32 being typical examples.

After many years of sluggish construction, the newly-built National Highway 32 project has come to serve as a prime example of already dilapidated projects.

The tunnels looks quite new outside, with new-looking roofs, but inside is a very different scene. There these tunnels serve both as a WC and a dumping ground.

The owner of a tea stand near a tunnel said, “I have been here for several years, but I have never seen anyone cross the road through the tunnel.”

The two tunnels near Hanoi Industrial University are also in the same state. They have become a de facto underground dumping ground, although they look quite modern from outside.

The tunnels cost billions of VND, and were meant to serve people crossing the road, but now are never used for their designed purposes. It is a great waste for the capital city of Hanoi.

Ca Mau increases protective forest area

The southernmost province of Ca Mau is striving to plant 2,000 hectares of protective forest along its coastline this year in a bid to improve the ecological balance.

According to Director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Van Su, since the beginning of this year the locality has mobilised 1,200 people and hundreds of local forest rangers to plant trees across 340 hectares situated along the coastline, mainly in Ngoc Hien district.

The newly-planted protective forest area is home to trees such as mam (Avicennia) and mangrove (Rhizophora apiculata).

The province now has around 25,000 hectares of protective forest along its coastline, the vast majority in Ngoc Hien. The forest coverage has reduced by 50 percent compared to 20 years ago, with trees cut down to facilitate shrimp farming.

Protective forests not only help prevent coastal erosion and landslides but also increase the balance of the natural surroundings, according to Le Dung, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee. The province aims to plant an additional 2,000 hectares of forest annually to bring the total coverage along the coastline to 32,000 hectares by 2020.-

Thua Thien –Hue Province’s becomes centralized

A delegation led by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong held a working seminar with Thua Thien –Hue Province’s leaders on March 17.

Trong expressed appreciation of efforts of the local authorities and people and achievements in economic growth and poverty reduction. The province’s gross domestic product per capita reached US $1,700 and household poverty decreased to 6.5 percent.

Thua Thien-Hue attained its goal of becoming a centrally-run city by 2015 and a major hub of Southeast Asia by 2020, said Trong.

He also visited residents in Hong Ha Commune, A Luoi District on the same day.

He stressed that the district’s authorities should promote its advantages for sustainable development.

Trong also delegated the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism and Thua Thien –Hue Province to build a traditional community house and a bridge over Ung Hong River to meet traffic demands.

Healthcare clinics hire family doctors

At least half of all 322 primary healthcare clinics in HCM City will employ two family doctors by the year-end, authorities have said.

The plan devised by the city's Health Department also calls for all clinics to have two family doctors each by 2015.

Speaking at a recent conference in HCM City, the department's director, Nguyen Tan Binh, said the family medicine model was an "efficient measure to improve health treatment and quality of healthcare services at the grassroots level."

"This will help reduce the severe overload at central hospitals," he added.

Public hospitals and clinics as well as private clinics have been encouraged to take part in the city's family doctor network.

The Health Department is also working with medical universities to provide training courses in family medicine to meet the demand for family doctors, Binh said, adding that infrastructure at primary healthcare clinics would be upgraded as well.

Fourteen district-level hospitals and 33 primary healthcare clinics have been granted licences for family medicine practice, said Nguyen Ngoc Duy, head of the department's general planning office.

Since last year, more than 117,200 patients in HCM City have visited family doctors at public primary healthcare clinics and hospitals for routine health check-ups, Duy said.

A total of 125 doctors in the city have been trained in family medicine, he said.

Many small public health clinics in the city have had to operate without doctors, or only one, on staff. Nurses and technicians often perform routine tasks like immunisations.

Fees for Lao Cai tollway announced

Vehicles travelling from the Bao Thang District to Lao Cai City in the northern Lao Cai province have to pay between VND40,000, or US$1.9, and VND160,000, or $7.6 as toll.

The 26-kilometre road, which opened to traffic last March, is part of the Ha Noi-Lao Cai Expressway which is over 260 kilometres long, passing through the Ha Noi, Vinh Phuc, Phu Tho, Yen Bai and Lao Cai provinces.

According to the investor of the highway, Viet Nam Expressway Corporation (VEC), effective from yesterday, vehicles with less than 12 seats or less than two-tonne capacity will pay a toll of VND40,000. Vehicles with 12 to 30 seats or having capacities between 2 and 4 tonnes will pay VND60,000, or $2.8. Trucks with capacities between 4 and 10 tonnes will pay VND80,000, or $3.8. Vehicles having capacities between 10 and 18 tonnes will pay VND100,000, or $4.7, while trucks with capacities of 18 tonnes and more will pay VND160,000, or $7.6, as toll tax.

Being constructed with an investment of about $1.25 billion from official development assistance, the full length of the highway is expected to open to traffic next June, halving the travel time between Ha Noi and Lao Cai from over seven hours currently to about three hours.

Japanese insurer funds free cataract surgeries

A programme to conduct free cataract surgery for 200 poor patients started in the central province of Quang Nam on Sunday.

Funded by the Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company of Japan, the VND300 million (US$14,100) programme will benefit over 250 poor people.

The same day, the Association for Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin Victims of the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre granted 116 scholarships to AO child victims.

The scholarships, worth VND94.5 million ($4,400), were funded by the Viet Nam's Friends Association in France (Les Amis du Vietnam) and Vo Thi Hao, an overseas Vietnamese in Canada.

Orbis Viet Nam gives $1.2m for eye care

The National Institute of Opthalmology will improve its paediatrics eye care and treatment ability through an US$1.18 million project funded by Orbis Viet Nam.

The four-year project will focus on improving the capacity of the institute's paediatric ophthalmology department, including its Child Friendly Eye Care Clinic, which treats 43 per cent of paediatric patients nationwide. It will also develop a paediatric ophthalmology training programme that conforms to international standards.

Orbis Viet Nam has funded 21 eye care and blindness prevention projects in Viet Nam since 2000.

Police die in tragic car-train collision

Two police officers were killed when their car and a train collided in the central province of Quang Tri's Gio Linh Town yesterday afternoon.

The victims were the deputy director and the head of investigations with Gio Linh District Police. Their car was carried for 100 metres by the train, which was travelling from South to North.

Bystanders had to break the car doors to retrieve the two bodies.

Local authorities are investigating.

HCM City, Lyon to work on urban development

Ho Chi Minh City and the French city of Lyon will work closely together on heritage preservation, urban planning, green growth and artistic lighting, which are fields of mutual interest.

The plans were discussed by Deputy Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Le Thanh Liem and Vice Mayor of Lyon Gilles Buna in HCM City on March 17.

Liem hailed bilateral connections in culture, education and health care in the past. Lyon has actively assisted HCM City in artistic lighting over historical and cultural sites across the city, he added.

Liem expressed hope that Lyon will facilitate Vietnam, and HCM City in particular to organise Vietnam Year in France, including a HCM City cultural week in Rhone Alpes region.

Buna said both cities have reaped substantial cooperative results since they established a partnership nearly 20 years ago.

Besides cooperation in urban planning and transport, the two sides can cooperate in preserving public landscapes and greenery and protecting the environment, especially heritage sites, he added.-

Japan funds Binh Duong public transport system

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) will provide low-interest loans or non-refundable aid for technical assistance as part of a project improving the capacity of public transport in the southern province of Binh Duong.

The concrete sum is yet to be unveiled, according to Deputy Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Thanh Liem on March 17.

JICA and Japan’s Tokyu Group will take charge of technical assistance for the Japan-style transport network, in which Binh Duong will launch an eco-friendly bus route linking Thu Dau Mot city and Binh Duong new city, and a metro line connecting My Phuoc and Tan Van, running through Ben Cat, Di An and Thuan An communes.

The project is meant to promote the use of public transport, towards turning Binh Duong into an environmentally-friendly province, Liem added.

Vietnam delegation commemorates Karl Marx

Minister Counsellor of the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK Le Thi Thu Hang on March 16 offered flowers in tribute to the great German thinker Karl Marx at Highgate cemetery in London.

Many representatives from the British and international communist parties were present at the ceremony to commemorate Marx, who died on March 14, 1883.

Vice Chairwoman of the Communist Party of Britain Liz Payne praised Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin for their fight against the oppression of women, saying that the works left by these eminent thinkers remain valuable today and encourage women in the fight for equality.

The event also created a chance for international communists to commemorate soldiers who devoted their whole life to the struggles for independence, liberty and the interests of the working people, such as Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap, South African President Nelson Mandela and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Born in 1818 into a middle-class family in Germany, Karl Marx is among the most influential socialist thinkers to emerge in the 19th century and one of the founders of communism.

More contributions expected from overseas Vietnamese

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Thanh Son has called on Vietnamese people living in New York to work more for the cooperation between Vietnam and the US, thus benefiting the development of their homeland.

Son, who is also head of the National Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs, made the appeal at his March 15-16 meetings with representatives of the Vietnamese community in the city.

At the meetings, overseas Vietnamese representatives expressed their desire to preserve and promote Vietnamese culture around the globe.

They also voiced their wish for Vietnam to devise more suitable policies encouraging young people to serve the country’s development and prosperity.

They called on relevant agencies at home to provide a sufficient number of highly skilled teachers and resources for Vietnamese language centres in New York.

Some said they plan to develop online Vietnamese language teaching projects with the support of local residents, providing audio and visual clips on the nation’s history and culture.

Support provided for poor people, AO children

A programme to conduct free surgery for 200 poor patients who suffer from cataract started in the central province of Quang Nam on March 16 with funding provided by the Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company of Japan.

Besides patients in Quang Nam, the 300 million VND (14,100 USD) programme will also benefit over 250 poor people in other localities.

The same day, the Association for Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin Victims of the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre granted 116 scholarships to AO child victims.

The scholarships worth 94.5 million VND (4,400 USD) were funded by the Vietnam’s Friends Association in France (Les Amis du Vietnam) and Vo Thi Hao, an overseas Vietnamese in Canada.

Meeting to mark 2014 World Water Day

A national-level meeting will be held in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau on March 21 as part of a programme recognising 2014 World Water Day.

Organised by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Electricity of Vietnam, in conjunction with the provincial People’s Committee, the programme will include a scientific conference and a photo exhibition on water, energy and life, and an art performance.

Themed “Water and Energy”, this year's 2014 World Water Day aims to raise awareness of the close relationship between these two basic elements, and calls on people to find management measures to maintain economic growth and meet human needs through sustainable utilisation of water resources and the efficient and economical use of energy towards a green economy.

It will be also an opportunity for managers, businesses, scientists and the community to share initiatives and opinions to deal with issues related to water and energy.

Lai Chau is one of the localities in the riverhead of the Da River basin, which holds great potential to develop hydro-electricity.

Rangers seek ways to preserve U Minh Thuong National Park

The staff of U Minh Thuong National Park in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang will enhance coordination with environment agencies to protect its forests.

According to Nguyen Van Cuong, the park’s Deputy Director, despite regular patrol efforts, wildlife poaching is still occurring in the park, posing dangers to the population of rare animals and causing risks of fire, especially during the dry season.

Five cases of wildlife hunting were detected in the first two months of this year, he said, adding that a total of 67 cases were detected last year, with 96 people arrested.

Tran Hong Dao, head of forest rangers in U Minh Thuong and Vinh Thuan districts, which house the park, said that residents living in the park’s buffer zone often catch fish, eels, snakes and other animals and stay in the forest for several days.

Covering an area of more than 21,000 hectares, the park is home to 243 species of plant, 32 species of mammal, 186 species of bird, 50 species of reptile, 60 species of fish, and 203 species of insect.

The park, which was a base of the revolutionary army during wartime, last year became the first on peat land to be recognised as an ASEAN Heritage Park.-

500kV Vinh Tan – Song May power line connected to national grid

The National Power Transmission Corporation, a subsidiary of Vietnam Electricity, successfully connected the 500kV Vinh Tan – Song My power line to the national grid on March 16.

The 236km line, which runs through Binh Thuan and Dong Nai provinces, required a total investment of VND2.9 trillion (US$136.3 million).

The line connects Vinh Tan Thermal Power Centre and other power plants in the south central region to the national grid.

The first trial run of the power line began on August 28, 2013.

The construction of the line took three years, during which compensation was given for the displacement of more than 2,600 local households.

Jetstar slashes prices in latest promo

Low-cost carrier Jetstar Pacific airline (JPA) has announced a promotional offer on flights starting atVND288,000 from 2pm on March 17.

The cheap tickets apply to flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang/Phu Quoc and Buon Ma Thuot.

In addition, tickets will cost VND388,000 and VND688,000, for  routes between Ho Chi Minh City- Hanoi/Danang and Ho Chi Minh City- Haiphong/Vinh, respectively.

These reduced price tickets are being sold on random on fights which depart from May 8-21, August 19-27 and September 9-October 23.

Flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi/Haiphong/Vinh/Cam Ranh and Buon Me Thuot will apply from the period of April 1-23 and Ho Chi Minh-PhuQuoc from April 8-23.

As part of the promotion, the airline will also offer one-way cheap tickets from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore which depart from September 9-October 24 witha very attractive price of VND800,000.

In addition passengers will be offered 20-kg free baggage allowance and be presented with a voucher worth VND100,000 when using the Max service package which allows travellers to change their flight dates or obtain a refund.

Promotional tickets will be available until March 24 on the Jetstar Pacific’s website and can be paid for online by credit card.

Source: VNS/VOV/Nhandan/SGGP/Dantri/SGT/VNA