The buck stops with city leaders in Hanoi's infamous tree-felling project: inspectors

By Le Quan, Thanh Nien News

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A tree is being cut down on Hanoi's Nguyen Chi Thanh Street on March 18. Photo: Ngoc Thang A tree is being cut down on Hanoi's Nguyen Chi Thanh Street on March 18. Photo: Ngoc Thang


City leaders were too hasty and failed to give proper supervision over Hanoi's controversial tree felling project earlier this year, inspectors have concluded. 
The city’s leaders have to "seriously review their responsibilities" in the implementation of the project, inspectors said.
The Department of Construction, the Department of Information and Communications and other involved agencies are "directly responsible" for the wrongdoings, they said.
At least 500 trees on nine streets had been chopped down before the city halted the project amid widespread criticism.
Under the US$3.4 million landscaping project, a total of 6,700 trees on 190 streets across the city will be cut down and replaced with new trees.
The construction department, which is in charge of the project, said there are more than 29,600 trees on around 200 streets of Hanoi, but many of them are dying or developing hollows, posing risks to road users during the rainy season.
Multiple wrongdoings
Inspectors said that the construction department did not consult scientists and local residents about the project while the communication department did not notify members of the public to reach a consensus of opinion, they said.
The project did not specify criteria for deciding which trees to be cut down or moved. It also wrongfully calculated the cost of replacing a tree and repaving the sidewalk at VND10 million per tree for all trees, despite cost differences. 
Inspectors said the construction department also failed to document the trees that have been felled. It also chose to plant many trees different than the types proposed under its original plan.  
Inspectors asked the construction department to take measures against individuals involved and announce specific criteria for trees to be removed in the project.
The department will have to take counsel from scientists and residents for the project, they said.

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