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VietNamNet Bridge – About nine hectares of the forest protecting against sand encroachment and climate change have been cleared to give place to a cemetery project covering an area of 10 hectares in Loc Ha district of Ha Tinh province.
The cemetery project, capitalized at VND41 billion, is expected to be located on a wide space of sand belonging to the protective forest in Thinh Loc commune. The project kicked off in June 2013, though the Ha Tinh provincial authorities released a decision allowing to use the 9 hectares of the protective forest for the project implementation.
Forest rangers did not know about project
Nguyen Cong Trinh, Deputy Chair of Thinh Loc commune people’s committee said local people have been planting hundreds of hectares of eucalyptus, casuarina forests on the sand hills over the last 30 years, responding to the state’s policy on afforestation encouragement.
However, in early 2013, the Loc Ha district people’s committee cleared 10 hectares of protective forest land and gave to the contractor implementing the cemetery project.
“To date, all the eucalyptus forest in the district has been destroyed to give place to the cemetery,” Trinh said.
Meanwhile, Head of the Loc Ha district’s forest ranger unit affirmed that the unit was not been informed or consulted with about the project. The forest rangers were not invited to the meetings discussing the project programming and they did not know that the project would have direct impacts on the protective forest in Thinh Loc commune.
“Only when the construction began, did we know that the protective forest will be destroyed for a cemetery. Meanwhile, by that time, the decision on allowing to turn the protective forest into the cemetery project land had not been released the provincial authorities,” Chinh said.
“After asking the investor to suspend the project, we had a working session with the Loc Ha district, where we said clearly that the investor and involved parties need to follow necessary procedures before starting the project,” he added.
“The forest does not have protection property”
Tran Tu Anh, Chair of the Loc Ha district people’s committee, affirmed that the cemetery had been projected before the district separation.
He also said that the district authorities had reported about the project to the provincial authorities and got the nod from the leaders.
Regarding the Decision dated October 8, 2013, the Ha Tinh provincial authorities agreed on taking the 9 hectares of the protective forest in Thinh Loc commune for the Loc Ha cemetery project, Anh said that there are some differences in reality. In fact, the cemetery covers some areas in the forest, but there are no trees there, so they should not be considered as protective forest.
However, Bui Le Bac, Chief Secretariat of the Ha Tinh provincial flood prevention committee, affirmed that the forest in Thinh Loc commune has been playing an important role in preventing sand from entering the cultivation areas.
He also thinks that the forest needs to be protected rather than being turned into a cemetery.