Vietnam's environment police on Friday warned of worsening pollution in the Dong Nai River, the southern region's main water supply that has been being exposed to multiple sources of contamination.
Speaking at a meeting, Duong Van Linh, deputy chief of the Department of Environment Police under the Ministry of Public Security, said many projects were recently planned or executed along the river without careful consideration of environmental impacts.
In one of the latest cases, Dong Nai Province-based Toan Thinh Phat Company has drawn fierce criticism from the public for allegedly falsifying the environmental impact report of its now suspended construction project.
The company planned to dump rocks and sand into the river in an attempt to fill up 84,000 square meters for a mixed-use development of houses, offices, shopping malls and a hotel.
Such projects, if started, will bring more threats to the river, which has already received huge amount of waste, mostly untreated, every day, Linh said.
It was estimated that more than 10,500 factories and trade villages dump over 480,000 cubic meters of wastewater to the river a day.
Many businesses have been found not having waste treatment systems in place, Linh said. In some cases, treatment systems could not work properly or were rarely used.
Official figures from Linh's department showed that police detected nearly 2,220 environmental violations along the river, and fined violators over VND100 billion (US$4.41 million) since 2013.
Supporting more than 15 million people, the Dong Nai receives another 990,000 cubic meters of wastewater from urban areas, including discharges from hospitals and households, the official said. Most of the urban areas at the river's basin do not have treatment systems, he noted.
Moreover, illegal activities of mining minerals and dredging have resulted in higher risks of erosion, he said.
In response to Linh's report, Minister of Environmental and Natural Resources Nguyen Minh Quang urged local governments to tighten their control over waste discharges and treat the river's pollution, saying that they cannot sacrifice the environment for economic growth.
The longest river within Vietnam, the Dong Nai runs over 586 kilometers from the Central Highlands through five provinces before entering the East Sea in Ho Chi Minh City’s Can Gio District.