The Ministry of Transport has suggested a bypass in place of a highway proposed to be built through a world biosphere reserve in the southern Dong Nai Province.
In a letter to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on Thursday, the ministry said it is not feasible to have a part of National Highway 13C run through the Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve.
A plan proposed by Binh Phuoc Province, Dong Nai’s neighbor, has over 40 kilometers of the 86-km highway running through the biosphere reserve.
The reserve, which spreads over 100,000 hectares, is part of the Annamite Range ecosystem.
If the highway is to have two to four lanes, 44 hectares of forests will have to be cut down, according to the Dong Nai Department of Transport.
So the ministry has instead recommended building a bypass around the reserve connecting Dong Xoai Town, the capital of Binh Phuoc, with Ring Road No.4.
It will run in a circle through Ho Chi Minh City and the industrial provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An and Ba Ria – Vung Tau, home to seaport hub Vung Tau.
The ministry’s recommendation comes three months after the PM instructed it to finalize plans for the highway.
Dong Nai had earlier sought opinions from various sources including UNESCO and reconsideration of the plan, raising concerns about the impact of the highway on forests and wildlife habitats.
According to the ministry, the bypass will cost VND530 billion (US$22.7 million) and run 71km.
It is the “shortest distance and will cost the least” out of all options that avoid passage through the reserve.
The Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve was named a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 2011.
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