Hanoi to relocate households next to huge dump following protests

By Gia Chinh, Tat Dinh   January 17, 2019 | 08:46 pm PT
Hanoi to relocate households next to huge dump following protests
A truck is seen at Soc Son Waste Treatment Complex in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Chinh
1,100 Hanoi households will be moved away from a landfill they’ve been living next to for two decades.

The capital city will spend VND3.4 trillion ($147 million) relocating households that live within a radius of 500 meters around the Soc Son Waste Treatment Complex, the biggest landfill in the city.

The complex, which opened in 1999, stretches over 157 hectares (390 acres) in three Soc Son District communes of Nam Son, Bac Son and Hong Ky.

The decision was taken following residents’ protests in Nam Son Commune.

The protest began last Thursday with a group of 40 residents gathering to block trucks from entering the waste treatment complex, saying Hanoi and Soc Son authorities had been slow to compensate and resettle those suffering harmful environmental impacts from the complex.

Protestors set up barriers and tents around the waste complex, preventing garbage trucks from entering the place, causing rubbish to remain uncollected and pile up in many districts.

As of Sunday night piles of garbage could be seen along many streets in Thanh Xuan, Nam Tu Liem, Ba Dinh, and Long Bien districts.

Garbage is uncollected and piles up on a street in downtown Hanoi Sunday night. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

Garbage is uncollected and piles up on a street in downtown Hanoi Sunday night. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

It was only after authorities pledged a specific timeline for resettlement and compensation plan that locals removed the barriers on Monday.

Hanoi has ordered Soc Son to finish measuring land for relocation before January 20 and complete a compensation plan before March 30, so that it can start paying locals in the second quarter.

Since Wednesday, local residents have been preparing paperwork for the relocation.

"I have never seen villagers that excited in years, I really hope that the city can resolve the issue completely soon," said Vu Tien Luc, chief of Xuan Thinh Village in Nam Son Commune.

Villager Nguyen Thi Thu commented that garbage piled up for four days in downtown areas had already made things unbearable for residents, but she and her neighbors have had to suffer this for 20 years.

"No one wants to leave a place they have spent most of their lives, but for a better future for our children and grandchildren, we want to leave this place as soon as possible," said Tran Ngoc Tuat, another villager.

At a meeting with locals in May, 2016, Hanoi authorities had pledged that they would complete the plan to compensate and relocate residents out of the dump by the end of last year.

But as of early this year, nothing had changed, prompting the residents to step up their protests.

"The city authorities made guidelines, but did not issue any formal decision, and it was not until July last year that the district authorities had counted households that need to be relocated and drafted a financial plan for compensation," said Nguyen Huu Hung, deputy director of the center to develop a land fund for Soc Son.

"The process of counting took a lot of time, which is why the entire process has fallen behind schedule," he said.

A representative of Soc Son District administration said three resettlement areas will be earmarked in Soc Son.

"The district began implementing the three relocation projects more than a year ago, but a lack of funding has delayed the process," he said.

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