The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has written to the Government seeking to temporarily shut down two sugar factories in the Mekong Delta for causing pollution.
Sugar factories in the Mekong Detla may be put under pressure with the increasing sugarcane inventories in this 2014-2015 crop if Thoi Binh and Ca Mau factories are shut down
In an inspection in early June, the ministry found that two sugar factories named Ca Mau and Thoi Binh in Ca Mau and Tra Vinh provinces have still failed to handle pollution although they were given three years between 2003 and 2006 to do so, said the ministry.
Previously, the Government had required the two factories to deal with pollution before June 30 this year in its Decision 1788/QD-TTg issued last October. However, the two factories have done almost nothing to tackle pollution, according to the Ministry.
Inspectors from the ministry decided to fine each factory VND230 million for causing pollution and proposed the Government shut them down for nine months.
In August, the governments of Tra Vinh and Ca Mau wrote to the ministry and said they agreed with the decision to strictly punish the two enterprises for causing serious pollution.
However, they suggested the ministry delay the shutdown to the end of Arpil, 2015 for Thoi Binh factory and to the end of June, 2015 for Thoi Binh factory, meaning the end of the 2014-2015 sugarcane crop.
According to authorities of the two provinces, shutting down the two factories right before the new sugarcane harvest will affect incomes of more than 3,000 local households who are farming around 8,000 hectares of sugarcane, because the provincial authorities cannot help consume such a large amount of sugarcane.
On the other hand, the immediate shutdown of the two factories will create pressure for the two provinces to look for new jobs for local sugarcane farmers, which may lead to many unpredictable social issues.
Despite those reasons, the environment ministry disapproved their suggestions, saying that Thoi Binh and Ca Mau factories have missed the deadline for controlling their pollution for nearly eight years, and failed to fulfill the task of handling it before June 30 as ordered by the Government.
Therefore, the ministry still kept its suggestion and asked the Government to suspend the two factories in the next nine months to ensure rule of the law.
At the same time, it requested the two provinces to have solutions to consume sugarcane for farmers.
Nguyen Thanh Long, chairman of the Vietnam Sugar and Sugarcane Association, said if the Government agrees with the ministry, the Mekong Delta sugar sector will have to face big difficulties.
If Thoi Binh and Ca Mau are shut down, the association can only call for other factories in the delta to consume the redundant volume of sugarcane to be harvested soon, Long said. He added that other enterprises will not be interested in buying sugarcanes from the two provinces due to the higher transport costs, which will affect their profits.
Even when Ca Mau and Tra Vinh agree to support the transport costs, other firms still have difficulties adjusting their production plans, he said.
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