Hanoi Party chief sets out to right environmental wrongs

By Vo Hai   January 14, 2021 | 06:00 pm PT
Hanoi Party chief sets out to right environmental wrongs
An environmental worker sprays powdered lime onto a pile of trash to remove its smell in Hanoi's Nam Tu Liem District as the Nam Son landfill in Soc Son District is blocked, October 26, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Hanoi will focus on resolving environmental issues this year, particularly the controversial Nam Son waste treatment complex and low tree cover.

Vuong Dinh Hue, former Deputy PM who took over as the Hanoi Party Committee Secretary last year, said in a talk with VnExpress that the capital has dozens of issues to be tackled in the coming years, but environmental pollution and traffic congestion would get priority.

He highlighted the issue of the Nam Son waste treatment complex in Soc Son District, which has been in the news for long-standing disagreements over site clearance compensation that provoked residents to block entry to the dump, resulting in trash piling up on the streets.

The Nam Son landfill, Hanoi’s largest, receives around 5,000 tons of trash per day, and processes around 77 percent of all trash produced in the capital. Having operated since 1999, the site is now approaching its maximum capacity.

Hanoi must resolve the Nam Son issue for the long run and in a sustainable manner, Hue said. This would require authorities to monitor the collection and transportation of trash from their collection points to the waste treatment plant, not allowing leakage into the environment and appeasing citizens so there would be no more protest and blocks. The city must also make trash collection contracts transparent and open for the public to see, he said.

City authorities are planning to start operating the Nam Son waste-to-energy plant at the complex in May this year. The plant will be able to process around 4,000 tons of trash per day, producing 75-100 MW worth of electricity, Hue said.

More trees

Hue said Hanoi must also open more parks and plant more trees as soon as possible this year. Any plot of land available must be used for this purpose, he said.

Within the next two years, the capital must also finish renovating its markets, reduce traffic congestion and cut environmental pollution significantly, Hue said.

Vietnamese cities sorely lack tree cover, which has been depleting rapidly in recent decades, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.

For instance, the amount of tree cover in Hanoi and HCMC was only about two square meters for each citizen, much lower than the standard of 20-25 square meters per citizen in modern cities around the world.

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