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The National Assembly discusses forests, small hydroelectricity plants and floods

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The first session of the National Assembly’s discussion on the socio-economic situation that was broadcast live yesterday attracted the attention of voters and people nationwide.

In addition to the positive assessments about the effectiveness of the Government’s administration when the economy is still growing positively, many people expressed concerns and worries about abnormal changes in climate and weather. Within a short period of time, floods caused a lot of pain and losses to people in Vietnam’s central regtion. The cause was attributed to the loss of natural forests and the boom in small hydropower plants.

Are landslides caused only by heavy rains?

Perhaps the great pain of the people in the central region made many National Assembly members upset and talk much about deforestation, a factor that is considered to be the direct cause of increasing the intensity of floods in October.

Quốc hội, rừng, thủy điện nhỏ và lũ lụt

Living with storms, floods and droughts is the  fate that people in Central Vietnam have to  accept and find ways to adapt. Photo: Thanh Tung

As a coastal country, it is normal for Vietnam to face natural disasters every year. Living in a narrow strip of land in the central region with a lot of rain and severe heat, with the back leaning on the Truong Son range with high mountains and short rivers, local people have never can give themselves a day of peace in mind before the rage of heaven and earth. Living with storms, floods and droughts has been the fate that the local people from the moment of birth so they have to automatically accept and find ways to adapt.

However, it has never been that in just a few weeks, this land has had to continuously receive many storms, many floods, many terrible mountain landslides that killed so many people.

There have been many different interpretations from experts and those who are responsible for this situation. However, please do not be too simple to assume that landslides are caused by heavy rains. Please do not say that “landslides are hidden enemies” when that is something we can predict, even foresee.

No one denies that because of the heavy rain, the soil is hydrated, and landslides are easy to happen. But one thing to confirm is that human impact has also contributed to making these disasters come faster and fiercer.

If the natural forest is not destroyed for shifting cultivation, for planting paper material trees; if the natural forest is not destroyed by loggers; if the vegetation cover of the natural forest is not shaved; if people do not defy everything to destroy mountains to open roads, to bar rivers to build dams, to hang huge bags of water on people’s heads, there would certainly not be many devastating floods and flash floods as have occurred in recent years.

Can’t be subjective

The Ministry of Industry and Trade has been very cautious with hydropower construction. In 2017, the Ministry issued a directive document saying that it would not consider adding to the planning hydropower projects with a capacity of 3.0 MW or less.

In 2012-2019, the Ministry coordinated with provincial People’s Committees to consider removing from the planning eight terraced hydropower projects, 471 small hydropower projects and 213 potential hydroelectric sites.

No one denies the achievement of afforestation with more than 14.6 million hectares of forested land, including nearly 10.3 million hectares of natural forest, over 4.3 million hectares of planted forest and the rate of forest coverage of about 42% that Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong compared with the world forest coverage rate of only 29%.

The National Assembly deputies, however, cannot be satisfied with the actual forest coverage. When the natural forest is empty and the planted forest having the harvesting cycle of only 5-7 years, with low protection value, the vegetation cover being almost nothing, up to 95% of the rainwater is flowing off the ground.

Therefore, we cannot be subjective, cannot be complacent with the achievements of afforestation and forget the care needed before licensing any project that could threaten the survival of the forest.

Facing differing opinions on small hydroelectric it plants, but not directly debating with Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh during the group discussion session on November 2, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha had to admit that human activities in the process of building roads, hydroelectricity, infrastructure, and other civil works, both planned and spontaneous, in many cases was one of the reasons causing landslides or aggravated damage.

He suggested having a closer assessment of the geology of each area when developing infrastructure for socio-economic development in order to be able to cope with and propose preventive solutions.

NA deputies Nguyen Thi Xuan (Dak Lak province) and Trieu Thi Thu Phuong (Bac Kan province) proposed linking energy security issues with the prevention and control of natural disasters, floods and storms to have more comprehensive solutions for the protection of primary, protective, watershed forests, dam safety, construction of small and medium hydropower plants, and infrastructure planning issues.

Quốc hội, rừng, thủy điện nhỏ và lũ lụt

NA deputy Trieu Thi Thu Phuong (Bac Kan province).

In the current context, according to these NA deputies, there is no other way than to continue zoning off and protecting regenerating forests to retain water and to reduce the risk of floods and landslides. To do that, it is necessary to have an appropriate mechanism from the Government when integrating the issue of zoning and protection of forests with socio-economic development programs.

Care for the people with the mechanism and strictness of the law

No one denies the role of hydroelectricity in the economy, but people are worried about small hydroelectric it plants. Many NA deputies proposed that the Government, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and local authorities urgently re-evaluate the investment in small and medium hydropower projects in provinces in the central region, the Central Highlands and the northern mountainous provinces and to remove small and medium hydropower projects from the power development plan until 2030.

Quốc hội, rừng, thủy điện nhỏ và lũ lụt

NA deputy Nguyen Thi Xuan: Voters believe that the essence of building small hydropower plants is to legally exploit timber and resources.

Because “in fact, building small and medium hydroelectric plants does more harm than good. Rivers and streams dry up when hydropower dams store water and are flooded when these plants release water. Hydropower reservoirs have not brought into play the role of irrigation and water regulation for downstream basins, while natural resources are exploited by investors. Voters believe that the essence of building small hydropower plants is legal exploitation of timber and resources,” said NA deputy Nguyen Thi Xuan.

Those small hydropower plants in Rao Trang have not yet brought benefits for the people, but nearly 30 lives have been buried under the ground and rocks. What were the people who licensed these small hydroelectric plants thinking! Where were the investors of these hydroelectric plants when workers were buried, and rescue officers and soldiers sacrificed!

Luu Huong

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/feature/the-national-assembly-discusses-forests-small-hydroelectricity-plants-and-floods-686780.html

Society

Cold front returns, temperature to dive in northern, central Vietnam

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The temperature is forecast to plummet below zero degree Celsius again in northern mountainous provinces from Sunday, while it is likely to drop in the central region, under the influence of an increased cold front from Saturday night.

The cold spell is moving southward, according to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, and will leave its first impact on the northern mountainous provinces, then other places in the region, the central area and finally some south-central localities.

There will be rain and medium rain in the northern region Saturday night to Sunday morning and light rain in the central area on Sunday.

Localities in northern and north-central regions will experience extreme cold, especially in northern Cao Bang, Bac Kan, Lang Son, Ha Giang, and Lao Cai Provinces, with temperature falling to 8-11 degrees Celsius.

The temperature in the mountainous region will range between 4 and 7 degrees Celsius, with some high mountainous places to see mercury as low as below zero degree Celsius.

Sleet – a mixture of rain and snow – will be expected in Ha Giang and Lao Cai Provinces.

Temperatures in north-central provinces from Quang Tri to Quang Ngai will be around 14-18 degrees Celsius.

In the Central Highlands and south-central regions, people may feel extremely cold in the early morning and night of Sunday.

Meanwhile, in the southern region, the weather will also get colder.

From Monday, northern localities will see the return of sunlight during the day while the extreme cold will continue in the early morning and at night.

The Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control has ordered subordinate authorities to implement measures to keep the elderly, children, and students safe, in order to avoid similar damages caused by a previous strong cold spell hitting the north and north central provinces from January 7-11.

The students can be allowed to stay home if necessary.

Protection measures for animals and plants should also be carried out.

In addition, there must be proper safety guidelines for visitors looking to see frost and snow at tourist destinations.

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Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/society/20210116/cold-front-returns-temperature-to-dive-in-northern-central-vietnam/58819.html

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Workers brave the night to speed up work on HCMC flood-prone street

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Workers brave the night to speed up work on HCMC flood-prone street

Upgrade of the 3.2 kilometer (2 mile) long street, which connects downtown District 1 with District 2 through Binh Thanh District, was launched in October 2019 at a cost of VND470 billion ($20.39 million).

Work on the section from Ton Duc Thang Street to Thu Thiem Bridge has been completed, with the remaining section from Thu Thiem Bridge to Saigon Bridge still under repair.

Phan Duc, head of the project management board, said it is 70 percent complete and that work would commence through the upcoming Lunar New Year, or Tet, to complete before April 30.

The construction site currently hosts 70 types of machinery, equipment, transport vehicles and about 150 workers, including more than 50 for night shifts.

Workers brave the night to speed up work on HCMC flood-prone street

Near the foot of Saigon Bridge, drill operator Nguyen Truong Phuc works to reduce subsidence, one of the first stages in upgrading the flood-prone street.

“I have been working here for two months, mainly at night. It’s quite stressful, operating the machine all night and concentrating for long hours,” the 32-year-old said.

Workers brave the night to speed up work on HCMC flood-prone street

A few meters away, Ngoc Nam repairs drills chipped during construction.

Workers brave the night to speed up work on HCMC flood-prone street

Near an overpass, a group of workers use excavators and dump trucks to relocate the old drainage system to replace with a new version.

Workers brave the night to speed up work on HCMC flood-prone street

Workers from Gia Dinh Water Supply Company install a new water supply pipe. Affected families are usually informed before work commences at night to avoid disturbances.

The upgrade will see the road surface rise from 0.5 to 1.2 meters. Low-lying houses on both sides will benefit from new, wide sidewalks accessible via three-step staircases.

Workers brave the night to speed up work on HCMC flood-prone street

Bulldozers operate at the intersection of Dien Bien Phu and Nguyen Huu Canh streets.

Workers brave the night to speed up work on HCMC flood-prone street

Built in 1997 and opened to traffic in 2002, the VND420 billion ($18.1 million) Nguyen Huu Canh Street was expected to improve traffic flow in HCMC.

But not long after its opening, the street subsided and began flooding each time it rained.

Workers brave the night to speed up work on HCMC flood-prone street

Tran Van Cuong guides a pump into a manhole on a newly-surfaced road section.

Workers brave the night to speed up work on HCMC flood-prone street

As temperature drops to 19 degrees Celsius at night, Dao Van Xuyen, 40, often wraps himself in a scarf, two layers of T-shirts, and a pair of gloves.

Xuyen only moved to HCMC two months ago. His main work involves leveling crushed stones, watering and pouring concrete. He often chooses to work the night shift because the salary is higher than the day shift, at about VND500,000 ($21.64) per night.

“For me, this job is quite suitable since it doesn’t require high expertise but pays well. I’ll try earn some money to return home to celebrate Tet,” the worker from Thai Binh Province in northern Vietnam said.

Workers brave the night to speed up work on HCMC flood-prone street

At about 2 a.m., Dang Minh Tri eats a cup of instant noodles. He works about four nights a week drilling and mixing mortar.

Source: https://e.vnexpress.net/photo/news/workers-brave-the-night-to-speed-up-work-on-hcmc-flood-prone-street-4222024.html

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Vietnam to become first country to produce vaccine for ASF

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Vietnam completed the study and pilot programme of its vaccine for ASF and is expected to start commercial production from the second quarter of this year.

vietnam to become first country to produce vaccine for asf
Vietnam to issue vaccine for ASF in second quarter

Once the products are officially launched, Vietnam will become the first country in the world manufacturing a vaccine for ASF.

Navetco National Veterinary JSC (Navetco) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development finished the pilot programme on 72 pigs in normal condition with a 100 per cent success ratio. The pilot was also applied to crossbred pigs. According to Navetco, the vaccine takes 14 days to show results..

Phung Duc Tien, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development said, “The vaccine is sure to be effective because no pigs tested positive for the ASF epidemic after being injected.”

The vaccine was developed basing on the gene I177L from the US. The US studied this virus for 10 years. In February last year, Vietnam requested the United States to transfer genetically altered samples of the ASF virus it has developed to facilitate vaccine production. Vietnam plans to manufacture four batches of the vaccine with 10,000 doses each.

Vietnam National University of Agriculture started researching a vaccine last March. Thus far, it has developed four vaccines, one of which has shown encouraging results in 13 of the 14 pigs tested.

The Vietnam Academy of Agriculture Sciences’ research teams has also created a new vaccine piloted at three pig farms in the northern provinces of Hung Yen, Ha Nam, and Thai Binh. Of the total vaccinated animals, 16 out of 18 sows and all 15 pigs for meat were in healthy condition after two months, with some of the sows giving birth to healthy piglets. VIR

Ha Vy

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/society/vietnam-to-become-first-country-to-produce-vaccine-for-asf-706067.html

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