HCMC determines to eliminate illegal sand mining

Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee yesterday organized a conference to approve a project on illegal sand mining prevention and fighting in Can Gio district and adjacent areas between HCMC and southern provinces.

Border army force deters an illegal sand mining case in Can Gio in March 2019 (Photo: SGGP)
Border army force deters an illegal sand mining case in Can Gio in March 2019 (Photo: SGGP)

Attending the conference were secretary of HCMC Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan, city and agency leaders and representatives from Tien Giang, Dong Nai and Ben Tre provinces.

Reporting about illegal sand exploitation, Mr. Le Minh Dung, deputy chairman of Can Gio district People’s Committee, said that from 2015 until now, local authorities have spotted and handled 157 cases illegally dredging and transporting sand with the total penalty of VND6 billion (US$258,000). The number of violating cases has been increasing year after year.

Colonel To Danh Ut, commander of HCMC Border Guard Command, said that illegal sand miners usually operate at night and arrange men to watch out patrol force. Once being found, they usually inform their accomplices to run away or sink boats to destroy evidences.

They even take advantage of sand exploitation, trade and transport contracts from sand mines in the Mekong Delta to operate their boats across Can Gio waters area and illegally dredge sand for delivery.

Mr. Ut proposed to amend the law on handling administrative violations to confiscate violating vehicles including rental ones in case their operators keep violating regulations after being fined.

Major general Phan Anh Minh, deputy director of HCMC Police Department, analyzed three problems in need of being solved. Firstly, most of illegal sand dredging cases have seen wrong handling of objects focusing on individuals and skipping businesses. So he suggested to hold businesses responsible so that they will no longer blame employed individuals for the violation.

Secondly, authorized agencies have just penalized violators basing on the volume of illegal sand seized instead of expanding investigation over the previous violations and the previous volume of sand, which had been sold, to cumulate violations and handle backsliding detail.

If violations are cumulated and the volume of illegal sand tops 1,000 cubic meters worth VND100 million, authorized agencies can apply criminal handling.

In addition, authorized agencies have just cracked down on illegal transport but skipped illegal exploitation with a lot of evidences of violations on vehicles having been ignored.

Currently, investigators are able to restore positioning and journey monitoring data deleted by violators to prove the unusual journey of vehicles to strictly and clearly tackle illegal sand dredging.

So Mr. Minh proposed to establish an inter-agency group to settle the issue, specify responsibilities of each agency and police agency to make clear violations, investigate the origin of sand exploitation, transport and consumption and prove invoices used by illegal sand miners to be invalid. At that time, illegal sand handling will not depend on surprising violators in the act.

Licensing construction works using legal sand

Director of the HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Toan Thang said that the project on tackling illegal sand mining will be implemented from now until 2022. Synchronous solutions comprise intensifying sanctions deterrent enough to prevent backsliding, coordinating with southern provinces to get information about licensed sand mines to determine the origin of sand consumed in HCMC.

Especially, the city should build a small complex of structures of steel pipes like DK1 rigs with advanced devices to combat illegal exploitation of minerals and seafood, he suggested.

Mr. Thang affirmed that HCMC will inspect the origin of sand used in projects in the city especially those consuming a large amount of reclamation sand. Large scale projects should count the origin of sand for reclamation and construction before being approved.

HCMC determines to eliminate illegal sand mining ảnh 1

Secretary Nguyen Thien Nhan (L) talks to delegates at the conference (Photo: SGGP)

Representatives from Tien Giang, Dong Nai and Ben Tre provinces agree with the project, saying they will supply information about legal sand mines to help HCMC inspect illicit sand transport to create a foundation for handling violations in sand mining, transport and trade; intensify inspection over businesses’ invoice issue to prevent illegal sand dredgers from buying invoices to regularize their sand.

They proposed the Government to increase penalty and apply additional penalty by confiscating violating vehicles for exploiting sand from ten cubic meters and more to further deterrence.

Stating at the conference, secretary of HCMC Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan agreed with the proposal of building structures like DK1 rigs and establishment of an interagency team to tackle the issue.

He proposed relevant sides to apply technology to clearly understand the rule of operation of sand exploiting objects, shut down unlicensed sand buying spots. He suggested requiring violators to pay costs for authorized agencies to keep their violating vehicles.

Mr. Nhan asked to determine sand demand in HCMC and supply from provinces. In case HCMC is short of construction sand, substitute source should be named. The city People’s Committee should work with the Ministry of Construction and provinces to make clear these matters.

Deputy chairman of the city People’s Committee Tran Vinh Tuyen said that the city will organize a conference on substitutes for sand.