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|Stone mining on Tang Quai Pass. - VNA/VNS Photo Phan Tuan Anh|
It all started with a well-intentioned policy aimed at making use of local resources and advantages in developing industry in tandem with processing and consumption as part of a programme launched in 2015 for the 2016-20 period.
However, by the end of 2016, only two businesses in the province – private construction company Minh Quy and the Ha Giang Highlands JSC – were allowed by Ha Giang People’s Committee to conduct stone mining for construction material.
According to locals, the location of Ha Giang JSC’s stone quarry at the Tang Quai Pass is not appropriate since the use of explosives during mining could result in landslides, threatening people’s lives.
In addition, the pass area contains a lot of ancient caves with tourism development potential for the district in particular and the province in general.
According to the report by Nhan Dan (The People) newspaper, residents’ concerns are justified as loud explosions, dust in the air and falling rocks have become familiar occurrences.
On Road 279 — the main road of Dien Bien Province — vehicles are forced to patiently wait for the lifting of road restrictions to go through the Tang Quai Pass. The road restriction was arbitrarily imposed by the Ha Giang JSC, citing the need for the movement of heavy trucks carrying stones from the quarry to Dien Bien City. Worse, when it rains, traffic flow on this road becomes nearly impossible.
There are also no road signs or warning signs erected near the mining area.
Faced with this situation, the Economics and Infrastructure Department of the Muong Ang People’s Committee coordinated with the road administration to inspect and handle violations committed by the Ha Giang Highlands JSC.
However, the meeting wasn’t successful because the company’s representative, deputy director and quarry manager Dao Son Hai, failed to show up.
The inspection team then came directly to the company, made a record of the company’s violations and demanded the company comply with the administrative sanction decision issued earlier.
Previously, in August, during an unannounced inspection of the working group, Dao Son Hai admitted that the company had committed several transgressions, including illegal blocking of the national road to carry out mining and failure to set up warning signs and barriers to prevent falling rocks in the vicinity of the mining sites as per regulations. Other violations included an unannounced self-made road connected to national road 279, failure to follow original planning, and selling products that had not passed technical standards.
Muong Ang authorities have asked the company to immediately stop illegal land-filling and quickly carry out environment rehabilitation work before the end of September. However, at present, punitive measures have not been imposed.
Following inspection, violations committed by the company have been clarified, however, the question remains as to how to effectively deal with offenders and prevent setting a precedent for other businesses to flout the law by abusing local governments’ special treatment policy to attract investors.