Senior official ordered to reforest 10 hectares

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In a rare punishment meted out in Vietnam, a senior government official has been ordered to replant ten hectares of forest trees that he had wrongly sold to a local company.

The Binh Phuoc Party Unit's Inspection Committee said Monday it has ordered Doan The Nam, deputy director of the provincial Department of Science and Technology, to replant ten hectares of cajuput forest near the Thac Mo Hydropower Reservoir in Phuoc Long District.

The committee has also asked Nam to pay the state exchequer VND100 million (US$4,900) for underselling exploitation rights to the trees, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.

It said Nam gave Dong Nai-based Dat Lam Company the right to exploit the forest area without following the required procedures. The value of the trees was VND650 million, but Nam only charged VND250 million for the right to exploit the 16.3 hectare area, a Cong An Nhan Dan report said, citing estimates by some wood companies.

The forest area concerned was part of a forestation project invested in by the provincial administration and implemented by the Department of Science and Technology in 2002.

When the project was completed in 2007, the Binh Phuoc People's Committee instructed the Advanced Science and Technology Application Center to manage the forest.

In 2011, Nam signed a contract with Dat Lam Company to exploit the trees and in May this year, the company chopped down ten hectares of the 16.3 hectare forest.

According to the Binh Phuoc Party Unit's Inspection Committee, Nam used to be director of the Advanced Science and Technology Application Center. However, he no longer held that position when he signed the contract with Dat Lam.

Moreover, Nam did not follow procedures that required an assessment of the trees' value before the sale, the agency said.

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