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|Thu Thiem New Urban Area in District 2 is planned to be a modern residence and a commercial, financial and service centre of HCM City. The ambitious project involves relocating thousands of households, and a number of them have expressed discontent with the Government’s compensation or resettlement schemes, causing prolonged disputes and delaying the progress of the project. - Photo zing.vn|
The order was made during yesterday meeting in Hanoi chaired by the Government leader, and attended by the deputy prime ministers Truong Hoa Binh and Trinh Dình Dung, showing the administration’s commitment to resolve land disputes that were bound to emerge during the country’s course of fast development.
At the meeting, PM Phuc said the project Thu Thiem, envisioned to be a ‘modern’ urban centre of the southern metropolis HCM City, was approved in 1996 by the then Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet.
The mega-project necessitated massive land clearance that saw displacement of thousands of households in the originally poverty-ridden swampland.
However, due to HCM City’s efforts and the ‘positive support’ from the majority of the affected households, land clearance progress had currently reached 99 per cent, said PM Phuc.
“We must look directly at the truths, if what we’ve done are right then continue to persistently explain yourselves and convince people, if there are mistakes, then I expect full commitment and resolution to correct them, all in serving of the city’s development and people’s lives,” he said.
The Government leader expressed appreciation towards the households who have willingly co-operated with the authorities on the development of the project.
PM Phuc stressed the importance of ensuring stable living conditions for the resettled households, and that the “development of the city must not come at the expense of these households.”
During the land clearance progress, however, the local authorities had made mistakes in terms of planning, land management, document storage and failed to effectively settle citizens’ complaints, leading to prolonged land disputes, he said.
“The ultimate responsibility lies in the ministries and agencies involved, especially HCM City’s authorities,” PM Phuc said.
He also asked the settlement of disputes must be “in line with existing laws, respecting and protecting the legitimate rights of the citizens, investors, and the State, as well as ensuring harmonious interests between the parties involved.”
PM Phuc also asked for utmost transparency during dispute settlement – the authorities need to investigate every development of the case, listen attentively to the people’s concerns and feedback, and strive towards full consensus towards a final solution.
If there are indeed faults on the authorities’ part, they have to stake out a clear timeline to address these issues.
The Government Inspectorate was also asked to review and clarify the people’s complaints over compensation or resettlement living issues during the land reclamation process, and a report to the Prime Minister is expected before July 15.
The ministries of environment and natural resources, construction, justice and the HCM City People’s Committee “all have the responsibility to closely work with the Government Inspectorate and support their investigation into people’s complaints.”
Local authorities were also asked to cater to households who have relinquished their land but haven’t received living arrangements in resettlement housing, or households who have had their land taken by force that are still without a stable living condition.
Covering a total area of 657 hectares, the Thu Thiem new urban area is located on a peninsula in HCM City’s District 2, which faces downtown District 1 across Saigon River.
The proposed financial district and mixed-use urban area of HCM City is set to become the largest inner-city development in Southeast Asia.
To develop such a project, it took more than 10 years for site clearance of most of Thu Thiem peninsula, with as many as 15,000 households being resettled.
In a document sent to the Prime Minister in 2015, the city authorities said total costs in the new urban area for clearance compensation and resettlement, technical infrastructure, and loan interest had reached more than VNĐ29 trillion (US$1.27 billion).