By Tuoi Tre News
Kien Giang, Vietnam, June 22, 2017
A spectacular area of land blessed with unique limestone mountain ranges in the southern Vietnamese province of Kien Giang is being threatened by heavy industrial activity.
Situated in the northwestern part of Kien Giang, Kien Luong Town is the only area in southern Vietnam that possesses the natural limestone mountains, which hold both great tourism and industrial potential.
However, the natural resource has been excessively exploited in the operation of various factories, resulting in mountains being leveled, the environment suffering, and wildlife species becoming endangered.
According to the observation of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters, the town is overwhelmed with dust, forcing local residents to wear gauze masks whenever they are outside.
The dust is mainly created from the production of clinker, a core material of cement, at the Kien Luong Cement Factory in Lo Bom Hamlet, and at another facility of Ha Tien 2 Cement Company.
Do Quang Vuong, one local resident, complained that he, like every other person in the neighborhood, had been living a dust-filled life, with everything in his house from furniture, floor, to personal items whitened by the dust.
“We breathe, eat and drink cement. We even sleep on cement,” Vuong said. “That is how we live.”
The situation is most severe in October, Tran Quoc Vu, another local, complained, adding that it used to be much worse.
Thanks to the fierce reaction by residents, operators of these factories were equipped with an anti-dust system installed to help alleviate the problem.
Based on his experience in the industry, Nguyen Van Tuyen, who has lived in Kien Luong for 40 years, said that dust is an inevitable by-product of cement production.
What worries local people the most is that it could be a factor in the rising number of cancer deaths over the past few years, Tuyen claimed.
Aside from the two cement factories, three other industrial compaies are located along Provincial Highway 11, previously considered Kieng Giang’s most scenic street.
The only view people have on this road now are mountains damaged by frantic exploitation.
Among them, Mo So Mount, which was recognized as a national historic site in 1995, has been threatened by the activities of the Hon Chong Cement Factory.
According to Luu Hong Truong, head of the Southern Institute of Ecology, the limestone mountains in Kien Luong are home to a diverse system of caves and a wide variety of plants.
They are also the natural habitat of a group of endangered Indochinese silver langurs, Truong added.
“At the moment, the wild animals are yet to be harmed. However, prompt measures must be applied to prevent industrial operations from affecting them,” the expert asserted.
Efforts to preserve the environemnt in Kien Luong have been mentioned for decades, but still no specific plan has been laid out, he added.