Dong Nai to resettle airport-displaced families

Monday, Mar 17, 2014 09:18

During a field trip to the site of the future Long Thanh Airport last Friday, Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai said a new international airport in Long Thanh is necessary because the Tan Son Nhat Airport is already overloaded.— File Photo

Compiled by Le Hung Vong

The provincial authorities of Dong Nai have begun resettlement plans for residents affected by the project to built an international airport in the province's Long Thanh District, which is scheduled for completion in 2020.

A total of 17,000 residents, or nearly 5,400 families, from the communes of Long An, Binh Son, Cam Duong, Suoi Trau, Long Phuoc, and Bau Can will lose their homes to the project.

To resettle these families, Dong Nai Province has plans to invest more than VND4.1 trillion (about US$194 million) building two resettlement areas on 560 hectares in Loc An and Binh Son Communes.

However, most of the residents are farmers and therefore need land for farming.

Ngo The An, Deputy Chairman of Long Thanh District People's Committee, said: "Providing jobs for resettled residents is a major issue. The district authority has asked companies who will construct the airport to employ Long Thanh residents, for their construction work."

Relevant agencies in Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said that the department has been asked to map out a master plan for resettlement and provide employment opportunities for those who have to move for the airport project.

Tran Minh Phuc, Deputy Chairman of Dong Nai People's Committee, said the provincial authorities are working hard on the resettlement plans to ensure a stable transition, better education and health services for residents.

The decision to build Long Thanh International Airport was approved by Prime Minister Phan Van Khai in 2005. It will be located on a 5,000 ha area and will replace Tan Son Nhat Airport, which accommodates two-thirds of all international arrivals in Viet Nam, with traffic growing at 15 per cent a year.

During a field trip to the site of the future Long Thanh Airport last Friday, Deputy PM Hoang Trung Hai said a new international airport in Long Thanh is necessary because the Tan Son Nhat Airport is already overloaded.

Sugarcane losses

Nearly 50 per cent of sugarcane growers in the Mekong Delta have suffered losses in the 2013-14 crop, forcing many growers to shift to other crops.

Nguyen The Tu, head of the Agriculture and Rural Development Division in Phung Hiep District, said this year, sugarcane prices have dropped to VND750-800 per kg, VND100 to VND150 lower than the prices sugar factories originally pledged with farmers.

"About 50 per cent of sugarcane growers in Hau Giang's Phung Hiep District, which has 9,533 ha under sugarcane cultivation, have suffered losses," said Tu.

Tran Van Tam , head of the Agriculture and Rural Development Division in Soc Trang Province's My Tu District, said 40 per cent of sugar cane growers in the district have faced losses, 15-20 per cent of them recouped their investment and the rest obtained lower profits - around VND10-15 million for one hectare.

The areas under sugarcane cultivation in My Tu District have decreased by 300 hectares compared to the previous season as farmers have switched to other crops such as rice, vegetables and fruit trees, said Tam.

Nguyen Van Dua, a sugarcane farmer in Phung Hiep District, said his family has sustained losses of more than VND10 million on one hectare of sugarcane this year.

"The selling prices are low while expenses on labour and transportation costs and other material have all increased, making our investments unprofitable," Dua was quoted by Thoi Bao Kinh Te Sai Gon (Sai Gon Economic Times) as saying.

In this situation, sugarcane farmers in the Mekong Delta provinces have switched to growing oranges, mandarins, vegetables and other crops.

In Phung Hiep District, farmers have turned 366 ha under sugarcane into other crops, and 200 ha of sugarcane in Cu Lao Dung District (Soc Trang Province) has been converted to shrimp cultivation.

Similarly, over 300 ha under sugarcane cultivation in Tra Vinh Province has been switched to shrimp breeding.

The country is expected to produce around 1.6 million tonnes of sugar in the 2013-14 season, whilst demand is around 1.3 million tonnes, according to the Viet Nam Sugarcane and Sugar Association.

Inefficient golf club

Binh Thuan Province's decision to convert the 20-year-old Ocean Dunes Golf Club in Phan Thiet City into an urban area has attracted a range of opinions, including opposition from golf players in southern provinces.

The provincial authority of Binh Thuan has decided to turn Ocean Dunes Golf Club - also called Phan Thiet golf course - into an urban area due to its "ineffective operation", according to Le Tien Phuong, chairman of Binh Thuan People's Committee.

The golf course had been operating inefficiently while contributing almost nothing to the State budget and providing few jobs for local people, according to Nguyen Duc Hoa, director of Binh Thuan Province's Department of Planning and Investment.

Although it is located at the crossroads of Nguyen Tat Thanh and Ton Duc Thang Streets, a prime site in Phan Thiet City, the golf course has suffered big losses since opening in 1997.

Figures released by the Binh Thuan Taxation Bureau revealed that the golf course project incurred losses of VND115 billion (over US$5.4 million) in the last decade (beginning 2004).

It is expected that the newly-planned urban area will consist of villas, garden houses, townhouses, high-rise buildings, public works and other infrastructure facilities.

A former official from Binh Thuan provincial authority, who declined to be named, said Rang Dong Co. has bought the 62ha area for $20 million, plus VND1 trillion ($47.4 million) conversion costs.

With 62 hectares of land in the area currently priced from VND13 million to VND20 million per square metre, Rang Dong Co is able to earn a huge profit from the land, he added.

However, the development plans have faced opposition from golf players.

Shortly after the provincial authority's decision was announced on March 4, golf players at Phan Thiet Golf Course were asked to move to the Sea Links Golf Course, which is also operated by Rang Dong, because the former course will be closed down in early April 2014.

"We don't want to move to the Sea Links Golf Course and we will be speaking to lawyers," an unkown golf-player was quoted by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying.

According to Nguyen Van Thanh Binh, chairman of the Binh Thuan Architect Association, Phan Thiet City only has one beautiful park and it is unreasonable to destroy the only green space, which is also home to a lake.

"If Binh Thuan Province wants to change the purpose of the golf course, there should be at least a council consisting of planning experts. Also, the province should be listening to the needs of the local people," former provincial chairman Dang Van Hai was as quoted by Thanh Nien newspaper as saying. — VNS

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