Local authorities, experts disagree on new urban area on Dong Nai River

Environmentalists and the Dong Nai provincial authorities are in dispute about a project to build a new urban area on part of Dong Nai River.

The Vietnam River Network (VRN) has officially requested the Dong Nai provincial authorities to stop the project on filling up a part of Dong Nai River to build a new 8.4 hectare urban area in Quyet Thang Ward of Bien Hoa City.

The provincial People’s Committee has released a document affirming that the project will “not affect the Dong Nai River’s flow, transport and flood drainage”.

The document showed that local authorities in early 2008 told the provincial agriculture department to hire the Southern Water Resources Science Institute to conduct a survey on possible influences to the river current if an embankment is built.

The institute affirmed that gentrification to be carried out in the area between Hoa An and Ghenh Bridges, with river encroachment of 50-100 meters, will not lead to major changes to the hydraulic regime of the river, and will not have a negative impact on the river stream and nearby shores.

VRN, while harshly criticizing the Dong Nai provincial authorities, emphasized that Dong Nai River is an asset of all Vietnamese. Therefore, the provincial authorities are not in the position to make decisions on the fate of the river.

The organization has asked the local authorities and the contractor to stop all project activities until the possible impacts of the project are clarified.

Many other scientists have also protested against the new urban area development project, saying that the project will have a bad impact on the socio-economic environment on the Dong Nai River basin.

The project, if implemented, would create a precedent for encroachment on the flood drainage corridors and affect the rivers’ currents in the future.

An expert from the HCM City National University said the urban area project implementation is likely to lead to changes in the river flow and cause erosion to the riverside.

The expert said that even if the Dong Nai People’s Committee had reasons to say the project is ‘safe’, it should not think of filling up a river just to make room for urban areas.

“What will happen if other localities also attempt to encroach on Dong Nai River to develop their new urban areas?” he asked, adding that Dong Nai provides water to 18 million residents in 11 cities and provinces, including HCM City and Dong Nai province.

“It seems that Dong Nai ‘forgets’ that the other 10 localities also get benefits from Dong Nai river,” he said.

Current laws strictly prohibit infringement on the water protection corridor.

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