Four-star resort built in national park without construction permit

By Lam Le   March 15, 2016 | 03:57 am PT
A giant resort in Ba Vi National Park was preparing to open its doors to the public in February when authorities discovered the project had not received official approval.

One of the villas in the resort. Photo by Giang Huy

Surprisingly, local authorities claim to have had no idea about the project as the national park is directly managed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).

MARD Minister Cao Duc Phat ordered the Vietnam Administration of Forestry (VNFOREST) to suspend all operations at the resort on February 29, and an investigation led by VNFOREST and the Ministry Inspectorate is ongoing.

Director of the National Park Nguyen Phi Truyen and related officials are to be suspended if any signs of corruption are uncovered or if they impede the investigation.

Le Mont Bavi Resort&Spa is situated in the middle of Ba Vi National Park (60km west of central Hanoi) at an altitude of 600m. The 4-star resort belongs to CFTD Technologies and includes tens of hotels, villas and swimming pools.

Truyen confirmed to the press that the resort has not been approved by MARD. In October 2015, he issued a formal request to CFTD Technologies to suspend construction until the permit was obtained. However, out of trust and respect towards the company, he allowed some construction work to continue.

“The project conforms with the plan [for Ba Vi National Park] approved by MARD,” Truyen explained.

CFTD Technologies Director Luong Ngoc Anh admitted at a press conference on March 1 he was impatient to finish the project.

It appears the company submitted all the necessary documents for construction but did not wait for approval.

Ngoc Anh said the area is prone to landslides, so while the application was pending, the company started to clear the site.

“We considered the plan approved. We had the environmental impact assessment report so we believed that the approval process would be completed quickly […] It was wrong of us to be so rushed and naive,” he added.

Vice Director General of VNFOREST Cao Chi Cong confirmed to the press that the resort lies in the area allocated for the development of services, but the project has not been approved.

Building work for the resort started after a contract worth VND8 billion ($400,000) was signed in 2008 between CFTD Technologies and Ba Vi National Park. The contract is valid for 53 years, including three years of construction, and covers an area of over 56ha. Under the contract, CFTD Technologies may build and restore villas, provide recreational services and preserve the forest.

Hanoi authorities are also investigating 57 villas built illegally in the mountains of Ba Vi. Local authorities are allegedly aware of the issue but have failed to respond adequately.

Ba Vi National Park is located 60km west of Hanoi and covers 10,814ha. It is a popular weekend mountain retreat.

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