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PM outlines $129 mln plan to fight Mekong Delta land erosion

By Sen    September 29, 2019 | 05:40 am PT
PM outlines $129 mln plan to fight Mekong Delta land erosion
A section of the National Highway 91 in An Giang Province collapsed into the Hau River, August 20, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Cuu Long.
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc says the government will allocate VND3 trillion ($129 million) for the fight against land erosion in the Mekong Delta, an acute problem, in 2019-2020.

The coastal and riverine erosion has been occurring in the Mekong Delta on a large scale, causing huge losses to many provinces and worrying local residents," he said at a meeting with local authorities in Tien Giang Province late this week.

"Climate change is increasingly complicated, threatening the national development, especially the Mekong Delta, our rice and fruit basket and biggest aquaculture production base."

Phuc noted that although the government has provided large amounts of capital for the region to tackle the problem, the situation remained critical.

In the last 10 years, Vietnam has spent VND16.1 trillion ($694 million) on anti-erosion work in the region. In 2018 and 2019, VND4.04 trillion ($174 million) has been allocated for the same purpose, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said at the meeting.

The Mekong Delta has 564 erosion spots along rivers and coastlines measuring a total of 834 kilometers, Cuong said.

So far, erecting rows of centrifugal piles with quarry stones inside (a breakwater structure which reduces the intensity of wave) has shown positive results in preventing coastal erosion in the provinces of Ca Mau and Kien Giang, he added.

This method has cut costs spent on the eastern and western coastlines in the delta. On the eastern coast, as much as VND15 billion ($647,000) per km has been saved, with the current spending at VND30 billion per km. On the western coast, the savings is VND10 billion ($431,000) per km, with the current spending of VND20 billion per km, the meeting heard.

The model, which was rated the most effective among other solutions tried, was tested by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).

Cuong suggested that other localities refer to the model for consideration and application, on top of building anti-erosion embankments. He also stressed the need to restore mangrove forests to ensure sustainability, improve the environment and facilitate growth of aquatic resources.

Deputy PM Trinh Dinh Dung said the current solutions are temporary and a more "wholesome" plan was needed to combat erosion in the region.

The PM also underlined the need for an overall assessment based on which scientific and technological advances can be applied in dealing with erosion in the Mekong Delta more effectively.

He also stressed the need for better forecasting in areas where evacuation has become urgent.

Phuc asked the Ministry of Science and Technology to collaborate with the Ministry of Construction to conduct relevant research in the region.

Local officials blame increasing land erosion, which has become an acute problem in the Mekong Delta, on climate change, sand exploitation and upstream dam construction in the Mekong, which affects the river's flow.

The delta is losing 500 hectares of land to erosion every year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. By 2050, the lives of an estimated one million people will be directly affected by this.

The Ministry of Construction last year made a proposal to build concrete barriers to protect 44,800 families in the region from river erosion.

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