Local residents living along the Hong (Red) River said that illegal sand exploitation during the rainy season had caused erosion and seriously affected their lives.
Up to 20 households in Mai Chau Village in Hanoi’s Dong Anh District have lost agricultural land due to continuing erosion.
Fields along the river are used for planting bananas and grapefruit – a major source of income for residents. However, orchards are increasingly falling into the river.
Two thirds of resident Vi Van Duong’s orchard was swept away in a year, the paper said.
It is alleged that the erosion has been caused by illegal sand exploitation on the river over many years.
Sand mining usually takes place at night to avoid detection by authorities.
One illegal sand business had 10 barges with a capacity of 50 tonnes each, said the paper.
The barges deposit the sand along the riverbank for sale, turning the area into a small construction site with trucks arriving and departing all day.
Cao Xuan Tien, a local resident, said: “Every night we suffer the terrible noise from machines collecting sand.”
“Removing sand from the river erodes the land we use for cultivation,” he said.
Residents have complained to district authorities a number of times, but the problem persists.
In response, authorities confirmed the riverside in Mai Chau Village was falling away, but not because of illegal sand exploitation.
Vuong Ngoc Chi, chairman of Dai Mach Commune, said erosion happened along the river during the rainy season every year.
However, he confirmed that there was one family business that had been illegally exploiting sand. Local police had tried to catch them in the act but failed. Meanwhile, they were not allowed to seize vessels, Chi said, adding that only authorities at a higher level would be able to.