Businesses promise to help clean up Hanoi lakes

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Businesses in Hanoi on Wednesday pledged hundreds of billions of dong for improving the quality of lakes in the capital city.

The pledge was made at a conference in response to an appeal by the city government.

Vu Van Tien, general director of Hanoi General Export Import Joint Stock Company, known as Geleximco, said his company will invest in two projects, newswire Vnexpress reported on Thursday, without specifying the money involved.

But Tien said the city should reduce red tape so that the projects can be started in the dry season this year, which is during the first quarter.

The company and many other businesses have committed VND296 billion (US$16 million) in total and registered BT (build-transfer) and (build-operate-transfer) projects worth VND430 billion to clean up the 44 lakes in Hanoi downtown that have never been subjected to such efforts in the past.

Nguyen The Thao, chairman of the Hanoi People’s Committee, said lake and river pollution has become a big problem for the capital city residents.

“But the city budget is thin so the city really needs businesses to help.”

The city has only managed to dredge, clean up and beautify large lakes such like the Tay (West) or Guom (Sword), and the job has not been done properly yet, Thao said.

Do Xuan Anh, director of Hanoi Construction Department, said 44 of 111 lakes that cover around 1,165 hectares in ten downtown districts have experienced “severe quality downgrade” as the city has never launched projects to improve them.

Most of those lakes have turned into polluted close-end ponds, causing tremendous inconvenience to residents not to mention posing health threats, Anh said.

Studies by the state-owned Hanoi Drainage Company showed heavy pollution at lakes that have not been dredged or cleaned up, with the amount of pollutants many times above permitted levels.

Anh blamed “loose management activities” for the encroachment and despoiling of such lakes as Linh Quang, Re Quat, Tai Trau and Tu Lien.

Nguyen Van Suu, director of Hanoi Department of Investment and Planning, estimated VND1.88 trillion will be needed to improve the quality of environment around the 44 lakes, including the construction of drainage systems, dykes and surrounding roads, and preventing encroachment.

Suu also said businesses would not give much money to clean lakes because there were very few ways they could get their money back.

Pham Quang Nghi, head of Hanoi party unit, was quoted by newswire Vietnamnet as saying “the total number (of unimproved lakes) is much more.”

Nghi said many lakes around the outskirts of Hanoi, which was extended in August 2008, have not been counted.

Source: Thanh Nien

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