Hanoi, June 28, 2018
Vietnam’s coastal areas planning and management have not been effective enough in the past years, leaving marine economics potential not fully tapped and community’s access to these natural areas limited, while environment pollution is becoming more and more serious.
At the recent fifth session of the 14th National Assembly, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, while saying that land management had made certain improvements, also admitted the troublesome situation in several coastal provinces.
He mentioned illegal construction and illegal encroachment of public space along beaches and river banks in many coastal provinces and cities. He also talked about illegal trading and construction in Phu Quoc Island District of Kien Giang Province, in Bac Van Phong special economic zones of Khanh Hoa Province, or in Van Don special economic zones in Quang Ninh Province.
Illegal construction, unwise planning
In a recent inspection in Phu Quoc Island, local authorities found out more than 50 organisations and individuals owning some 540 construction works on the islands that are either illegal or free of construction license.
According to the construction ministry, lax management by local authorities was the main reason for such situation. Apart from short-term vision and low quality land planning, local authorities had not been practical in land use orientation and space development, the ministry said.
Pham Anh Tuan, head of the Land Management Faculty at the University of Natural Resources and Environment, said coastal land management had been put in the country planning. However, in reality, provinces authorities were not strict enough when selecting investors for coastal projects, leading to suspended and prolonged projects.
“This results in easy renting and ease licensing for project investors in some localities. Some investors do not really want to develop their projects but just want to keep the land and earn profit from renting it to other parties,”
Tuan also said that this caused unplanned development in many places: such as spontaneous agriculture farming, causing water pollution in many sea areas.
Deputy Prime Minister Dung also touched upon the issue of community interest regarding access to the sea. He said land planning in many coastal provinces was not designed with serious consideration of the community benefits, mention tourism sites and resorts without access path to beaches for local residents.
Pham Van Thinh, head of the Marine-time Economics and Planning Unit under the Viet Nam Research Institute of the Sea and Islands, said in the current context, the right to access beaches and the sea should be ensured since it’s a vital space for residents.
However, the construction ministry report said that in many provinces like Quang Ngai, Binh Thuan, Thanh Hoa or Da Nang City, conflicts can be seen between tourism business, agriculture farming models, building seaports and resorts with local residents.
Many resorts were built on a whole area next to beaches and hindered local residents from accessing the beaches – which used to be open for public.
Deputy Le Viet Chu from Quang Ngai Province said investors who wanted to build resorts along beaches need to publicise their planning and make sure their projects would not have bad impacts on local surroundings and residents.
According to veteran architect Ngo Viet Nam Son, it was not necessary that all coastal cities become tourist cities.
Coastal provinces and cities can develop key functions that bring different identities such as ecology, recreation, university urban, financial hub, fisheries hub, seaports, or international trade spot. It can create a diverse national maritime network connected by waterways as well as by coastal roads, Son suggested.
By investing in coastal provinces cities as a resort town, many high-rise developments in the coastal areas have grown massively and this has indeed caused a natural beauty loss, he said.
For example, Ha Long City owns an excellent view of the bay. But if local authorities allowed developers to builds structures close to the sea, especially tall buildings that will obstruct the view of the bay, that is lost.
Son said instead of focusing solely along the coastline, it is important to develop urban clusters that are located further inland but still well connected to each other and to the coastal areas.
Pham Anh Tuan from the University of Natural Resources and Environment said strict review of coastal projects and planning should be conducted. Local authorities should revoke land from investors who own prolonged and delayed projects.
He also said the natural resources ministry should clearly identify spheres of land management for localities for easier monitoring. He added the ministry should have proper evaluation for certain land areas to find out suitable development directions for each area for the best investment.