Weak adherence to environment law leads to licensing of polluting projects

Investors' reports on the possible environment impact of their projects are often vague and cursory, but government agencies frequently approve them.
Date of Release: 
Aug 8 2016

The requirement on environmental impact assessment was first set in the 2005 Environment Protection Law and the 1998 Water Resource Law. Later, the Water Resource Law was amended with many new provisions and standards, taking effect in January 2013.

In principle, when laws are amended, reports on environmental impact assessment must be made again, while old reports must not be used.

Vu Ngoc Long, head of the Southern Institute of Ecology, when talking about the Lee & Man pulp paper project, said that the big problem can be seen in the location of the plant.

“Since the plant is projected to be located right at the riverhead and on depression area, it will surely not only damage the Hau River, but also devastate the Mekong River Delta’s environment,” he said.

“There are ‘sensitive’ locations where there must not be any production workshops. This is basic knowledge that any scientist has to know,” he said.

Investors' reports on the possible environment impact of their projects are often vague and cursory, but government agencies frequently approve them.

Citing a report of the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, Le Trinh, deputy chair of the Vietnam Environment Impact Assessment Association, said that 95 percent of environment impact assessment reports needed additional information and amendment, while 5 percent of reports had to be re-compiled.

However, nearly all the reports were approved, and only 3-4 percent were refused and investors had to choose other locations and technologies.

The quality of environmental impact assessment reports depends on project investors, contractors and the types of projects. In general, international projects funded by WB, JICA and ADB have high-quality reports thanks to good preparation.

A source said that it takes from six months to 2 years and costs 0.06-1 percent of the investment value to make an environmental impact assessment report for one WB project.

“As for domestic projects, investors only spend VND100-200 million on one report, which explains why they cannot have high-quality reports,” he said.

Pham Ngoc Dang, deputy chair of the Vietnam Society for Nature & Environment Protection, said that investors issue environmental impact assessment reports just for form's sake because it was required by law, while they do not aim to find reasonable solutions to environmental problems.

“Many investors gave unrealistic promises. But their environmental impact assessment reports were still approved,” he said.

The expert once read a report where the investor promised that it would built a waste water treatment system to connect the concentrated waste water plant to be built by the state. The investor did not say when the plant would be available.

Source URL: VietnamNet Bridge

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