Mekong Delta province inspects sand mining with security cameras

By Ngoc Tai   August 31, 2023 | 06:00 pm PT
Mekong Delta province inspects sand mining with security cameras
A rig extracts sand in the Hau River, a tributary of the Mekong, in An Giang Province. Photo by VnExpres/Cuu Long
An Giang Province authorities have requested sand miners install security cameras on their dredging rigs for inspection in wake of recent violations.

Data collected from the cameras must be transmitted to the province's Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the provincial government said.

To Hoang Mon, the department's deputy director, said An Giang was the first locality in the nation to make such a rule, which aims at controlling the amount of sand that businesses mine to ensure that they will not exploit more than permitted.

Until now, An Giang and other localities home to sand mines only require businesses to set up cameras at the mine and their warehouses to ensure barges carrying sand would not transport elsewhere but just between warehouses and local mining areas.

Last Friday, police announced an investigation into the An Giang People's Committee deputy chairman Tran Anh Thu for allegedly taking bribes of VND1.2 billion (US$50,000) to allow Trung Hau 68 to mine sand beyond the licensed levels.

The company's CEO told police that he had shared part of the money earned from selling the extra sand with several officials, including the director of An Giang's Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Prior to the investigation, the province had revoked licenses of 10 sand miners as guided by the Government Inspectorate.

In a report last December, Vietnam News Agency cited Ha Huy Anh, project manager of Sustainable Sand Management in the Mekong Delta of the World Wild Fund for Nature in Vietnam, as saying that currently, the volume of sand poured into the Mekong Delta from upstream is about 7 million tons per year and about 6.5 million tons of sand is poured into the East Sea.

Meanwhile, the amount of sand extracted from rivers in this area is between 28-40 million tons per year. This means, every year, the Mekong Delta is experiencing a sand deficit from 27.5 to 39.5 million tons, he said.

According to many experts and studies, it is the overexploitation of sand in the delta's rivers that has contributed to worsening erosion along canal and river banks in the region.

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