A Vietnamese journalist’s investigation into illegal sand mining in the Mekong Delta prompted Deputy Prime Minister to issue a letter, ordering authorities to tackle the issue.
The Mekong delta is home to 17 million people, a major source of rice for the region and it underpins a quarter of Vietnam’s GDP – yet most of it is sinking.
Wealthy nations’ drastic increase in construction sand consumption contributes to erosion of estuaries. Sand worth US$752m was imported by Singapore from Cambodia between 2007 and 2016.
Cambodia’s Supreme upheld a low court’s decision to sentence three environmental activists for their anti-sand dredging campaign activities in Koh Kong province.
Provinces in the Mekong Delta have run out of sand for construction at a time when many key infrastructure works are in progress.
Just as forests are more than only trees, rivers are more than water. The Mekong river carries massive loads of sediment and nutrients from upstream to downstream and across national borders, replenishing and enriching the land as it goes. This process is key to sustaining the ecological integrity of the river and surrounding landscapes, which in turn supports the economy.
However, a boom in sand mining and hydropower development on the Mekong is transforming the river’s sediment flows, with profound consequences for the region if left unchecked. For a prosperous, sustainable future for the region, all Mekong countries must come together now and adopt international standards for managing transboundary river resources.
Booming construction fuels sand mining, and threatens coastal environment and tourism, writes Denise Hruby in Earth Island Journal, February 4.