Vietnamese officials detained for letting firm clear forest

Thanh Nien News

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Pine trees felled in an illegal logging case in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong. PHOTO: GIA BINH

Two district officials in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong were arrested for allegedly allowing a company to destroy 27.6 hectares of forest illegally.
The provincial police said Vu Tuan Anh, vice director of Di Linh District office for land use rights registration, and Le Trong Thai from the Natural Resources and Environment Department of the same district, are under investigation for the charge of "irresponsibility, causing serious consequences."
Two other officials of Di Linh District facing the same investigation have fled, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted police as saying.
Police earlier detained Tran Van Le, director of a company in neighnoring Binh Thuan Province for forest destruction.
Investigators said Le had hired several Lam Dong locals to lease 78 hectares of land in the province on his behalf.
The four officials were responsible for checking the land before granting the land use certificates to the renters. They categorized the land as "deserted," even though it contained a vast area of forest.
The lessors in late 2012 transferred land use right to Le's company, which then felled a total of nearly 515 cubic meters of timber.

Figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development released in December 2011 showed Vietnam lost nearly 32,000 hectares of forests every year, including 60 percent to cultivation purpose, industrial zones, hydropower and irrigation projects, and 6 percent to illegal logging.

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