Vietnam farmers turn down another low offer by Vedan

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Farmers have rejected the pithy US$419,000 offered by Taiwanese monosodium glutamate maker Vedan as compensation for destroying their land with the pollution it dumped into the Thi Vai River over a 14-year period.

The March 19 offer increased the VND7 billion initially offered to 5,064 farmers in the southern province of Dong Nai to VND15 billion.

But the provincial farmers' association estimated that Vedan caused damages of more than VND1.6 trillion to local farmers.

The company's untreated wastewater killed fish in the river and riverside plants from 1994 to 2008, when the dumping was discovered by environment police.

Over the period, the firm had dumped 105 million liters of untreated wastewater into the river each month.

Farmers in neighboring Ho Chi Minh City and Ba Ria-Vung Tau Provinces were also affected.

A total of 839 HCMC farmers suffered damages of around VND107 billion, city authorities have estimated.

Vedan last year offered to pay VND25 billion in compensation to HCMC farmers, VND13 billion to Ba Ria-Vung Tau and VND7 billion to Dong Nai. Farmers' associations in the city and provinces all rejected the offer as too low.

On March 24, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment asked Ba Ria-Vung Tau to force Vedan to compensate its 1,255 farmers and help them restart their business or start new ones, the local newswire Vietnamnet reported Monday.

The ministry said it wanted the province to be the "pioneer" in such compensation cases.

The ministry asked the province to send an official note to Vedan next month asking for more compensation.

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