Officials in Hanoi are not happy with widespread media reports about a bunch of foreigners cleaning up a canal, saying local authorities keep the canal clean.
There were photos in the media Monday of members of Keep Hanoi Clean, an environmental nonprofit, picking up trash from a canal near Nguyen Khang Street in Cau Giay District and planting trees there.
According to the group’s Facebook page, the cleanup was done on May 15. The page also showed before and after photos showing how much cleaner the canal was compared to a week earlier when it was clogged with trash.
But Hoang Trung Kien, vice chairman of a ward in the district, rejected the claim at a press briefing Monday.
The ward authorities had the canal cleaned up a month ago, he said.
He also said the foreigners should have informed local officials if they had wanted to clean up anywhere.
James Joseph Kendall, founder of Keep Hanoi Clean, told Thanh Nien Tuesday that he never knew one needs to ask for permission to pick up trash.
“I don’t really care if the canal had been cleaned up before. I just went by and I saw that it was not clean enough, and so I asked my friends to join me and clean it.”
Kendall is seen in one photo wading in the black waters of the canal. Three other foreigners and several Vietnamese were also involved.
James Joseph Kendall, founder of Keep Hanoi Clean, in a talk with Thanh Nien in Hanoi on May 17, 2016. Photo: Thien Ha
The 34-year-old American has been living in Vietnam for three years and seen how trash dumped by people gets stuck in waterways and creates severe pollution.
He started Keep Hanoi Clean on May 1, initially by inviting his foreign friends before the operation attracted many Vietnamese.
The group, which now boasts more than 1,400 members, including around 20 regular members, is scheduled to clean up canals, public parks and gardens every weekend.
Adults will make a good example for children by protecting the environment, Kendall, who teaches English at a local school, said.