Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Little action on many ‘green' laws

Craft workers decorate vases for Chu Dau pottery products - the high-class pottery line of Viet Nam since the 15th- 17th centuries, in Thai Tan Commune, Nam Sach District, Hai Duong Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Hong Ky
Craft workers decorate vases for Chu Dau pottery products - the high-class pottery line of Viet Nam since the 15th- 17th centuries, in Thai Tan Commune, Nam Sach District, Hai Duong Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Hong Ky

HA NOI — Environmental mismanagement and serious pollution at craft villages were discussed by the National Assembly in Ha Noi yesterday.
On the issue of environmental protection law and policies in economic zones and craft villages, Deputy Nguyen Duc Hien said legal documents relating to environmental protection were not synchronous, resulting in a lack of strict policing of violations and discontent among residents.
Many legal documents were produced too slowly or were too general, making them too difficult to enforce, he said.
Hien said authorities had not yet paid due attention to environmental protection while penalties for violators remained light.
Similarly, environmental impact assessment had received little attention during the investors' licence processes, despite it being compulsory under the Law on Environmental Protection.
Deputy Truong Minh Hoang said 110 legal documents had been issued to regulate the development of economic zones.
"We are not short of legal documents regarding the issue but the problem lies in the low quality and ineffective execution of these documents," Hoang said.
The deputy said environmental pollution had been increasingly alarming in economic zones and craft villages yet few violators were penalised.
Hoang attributed the situation to overlapping management and a lack of interest in environmental protection, from grassroots office level upwards.
Many provinces turned a blind eye to violations because they wanted to attract investment, he said.
Deputy Truong Thai Hien said economic zones and craft villages had generated jobs for nearly 1.5 million people and contributed to growth in the southern province of Kien Giang.
However, environmental pollution in economic zones had been two to six times higher than allowable rates there, he said.
He asked the Assembly to revise Decree 67 concerning the collection of environmental protection fees for waste water, saying the current rates remained too low and were not enough to cover the cost of testing waste water samples.
He also requested provincial authorities be given more power to oversee dumping grounds as Departments for Industry and Trade, Natural Resources and Environments were currently overlapping in managing these dumping grounds and were passing the buck to each other.
Deputy Nguyen Minh Lam said the quality of waste waster discharged from craft villages was not closely controlled before connecting to concentrated waste water treatment systems at economic zones, causing overloading and pollution.
Lam and other deputies asked the Assembly to issue a resolution on environmental protection supervision in economic zones and craft villages.
Participants at the session were told there were 18 coastal economic zones with 800 projects capitalised at US$50.8 billion. Viet Nam also had 3,400 craft villages employing more than 11 million workers. Of which, 30 per cent of employees were rural people.
Deputy Than Duc Nam requested the Assembly assess environmental protection laws and policies to see if they conformed with reality.
He cited the Law on Environmental Protection issued in 2005 that related to seven ministries and localities, yet co-ordination between them was neither smooth nor in accordance with their responsibilities.
He said they had not yet conducted regular inspections over the treatment of solid waste, exhaust fumes and waste water.
Deputy Ly Kieu Van, meanwhile, said crimes and violations on environmental protection law were increasing. A Government report had found more than 1,700 environmental pollution cases this year, representing an increase of 72.6 per cent compared with the previous year.
Only 135 cases with 138 offenders had been prosecuted while the rest received administration fines.
Similarly, a NA Standing Committee report said most coastal economic zones of 15 surveyed had not yet met their commitments on environmental protection. Very few had concentrated waste water treatment systems and some that had them but shut them down to save costs.
Van voiced her concern over synchronous management of different ministries on environmental protection issue.
"I'm not sure if the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is able to become a bandmaster and take major responsibility over the environment issue," she said.
According to the World Bank, Viet Nam will suffer losses through environmental pollution of up to 5.5 per cent of GDP each year. — VNS

Source: http://vietnamnews.vnanet.vn//Environment/217378/Little-action-on-many-%E2%80%98green-laws.html

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