Environmental pollution control needs public attention

(VEN) – The Law on Environmental Protection (LEP) issued in 2005 has 15 chapters and 136 articles, increased by 8 chapters, 79 articles compared to LEP enacted in 1993. However, to meet the current situation, the LEP 2005 should be amended, with social responsibility and public environmental pollution control receiving greater emphasis.

No regulations on air pollution control
According to Prof. Dr. Pham Ngoc Dang, President of the Vietnam Clean Air Network (VCAP), LEP 2005 did not have any regulations on air and land environmental protection. These shortcomings in the LEP 2005 contributed to an seriously increased risk of air pollution.
According to research results of the “Assessing the overall health and economic damage caused by air pollution” project in 2010, co-launched within the framework of the Program 23 on improving air quality in urban areas by the Department of Health and Ministry of Transport, the financial damage caused by air pollution-related diseases per day per person living Hanoi was VND1,538 and VND739 per day per person living Ho Chi Minh City. By a rough reckoning, Hanoi citizens must incur around US$66.83 million damage and Ho Chi Minh City dwellers US$70.96 million.
According to Pham Ngoc Dang, to effectively control air pollution, the amended LEP should include to air environmental protection regulations regarding urban areas, handicraft villages, industrial zones, and rural areas; traffic noise, industrial noise and social noise; and also transboundary air pollution issues.
Water pollution control needs due attention from the public.
According to Prof. Dr. Tran Hieu Nhue from the Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment, currently there are about 2,500 craft villages across the country, but very few of them have adopted effective wastewater treatment solutions. Moreover, only 143 of 235 working industrial parks nationwide have built centralized wastewater treatment systems; and especially, only 18 of 1,000 industrial clusters across the country have owned centralized wastewater treatment systems.
Although the articles 35, 36, 37, 38, 44, and 82 in Chapter VIII clearly stipulate the environmental protection responsibilities of organizations, individuals, industrial parks, industrial clusters, and craft villages, there has been no strict implementation in accordance over the past seven years. Therefore, the amended LEP should include regulations on public inspection and control of environmental protection conducted by investors in infrastructure investment projects made in industrial parks and industrial clusters.
And the important role of the public
The LEP 2005 has provisions to create a legal basis for public participation in environmental protection. However, these regulations have proved limited and need amendment. According to Dr. Nguyen Van Phuong from Hanoi Law University, the Articles 103,104 and 105 in LEP 2005 regulate the publicity of environmental data and protection measures by organizations and individuals involved in production and trade of goods.
However, the public can passively receive the environmental data from producers and traders. So, what should be considered in the amended LEP is whether the public can actively require these producers and traders to provide necessary environmental information and what scope of information the public is able to ask for.
In addition, the amended LEP should include more regulations on ensuring public participation in environmental protection, and measures to improve public awareness of environmental protection and mechanisms to encourage the public participation in environmental protection activities.
The policy on public participation in environmental protection has proved sound in many countries worldwide and will play an important role in the national environmental protection program. However, it is necessary to have the bylaws to clarify mechanisms to ensure implementation of the public’s rights to know, discuss, do, check, complaint and denunciate environmental protection activities./.

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