Golf projects review could see more cancellations

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The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on Tuesday said it will review all planned golf projects next month and set up specific regulations for water and environment protection at the courses.

In a statement posted on its website on Tuesday, the ministry said that it will evaluate the economic and environmental impacts of the projects to decide if they should continue.

The ministry will cooperate with concerned agencies to decide which kinds of land can be given to golf courses, and study the links between golf course projects, tourism and real estate development, the statement said.

A golf course can only use up to five hectares of paddy field that yields just one crop a year, and once it begins operation, it should give the government money needed to develop new paddy fields for the same amount of land it has taken, the statement said.

The ministry said that the Prime Minister has ordered agencies to limit the amount of land taken from paddy fields for the courses and build golf courses in mountainous and midland areas instead to save as many paddy fields as possible.

The PM has also banned golf courses from being switched to real estate development, the ministry said.

Golf course development in Vietnam has of late stirred controversy with officials and experts saying these projects use up a lot of land and water that should go to rice farmers and exporters.

Following the review next month, the ministry will suggest amendments to land laws, as well as water and environment protection regulations to enhance management of the luxury sport, it said.

A resolution signed by the PM in November removed 51 golf course projects across the country, leaving 89 courses including 19 already operating to be developed until 2020.

According to the statement, the government has lent and granted 7.8 million hectares [19.27 million acres] of land nationwide to various organizations and nine percent of them are using their allotted land, measuring about 25,000 hectares, for the wrong purposes.

The ministry is working on solutions to end land law violations such as using public land for commercial purposes or not using land productively.

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