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Forest projects facing the axe

In Uncategorized on January 8, 2011 at 4:11 am

Forest projects facing the axe

QĐND – Monday, January 03, 2011, 20:37 (GMT+7)

A large chunk of Vietnam’s largest foreign forest planter’s six projects will face the chop due to lying in sensitive locations.

Lang Son province Department of Planning and Investment director Ly Vinh Quang said that the province would cut off part of Hong Kong-backed InnovGreen’s $50 million, 63,000 hectare forestation project licenced in February, 2008.

“It is because part of the project is in the country’s sensitive areas. Further examination is now underway,” said Quang.

Those “sensitive areas” are considered important to Vietnam’s strategic defense.

InnovGreen’s project would have covered 49 communes in districts of Van Quan, Trang Dinh, Loc Binh, Chi Lang, Cao Loc, Bac Son and Dinh Lap. Of which Trang Dinh, Loc Binh, Cao Loc and Dinh Lap.

Quang Nam province Department of Planning and Investment director Tran Van Tri echoed Quang’s view.

“Any sensitive area of InnovGreen’s project in Quang Nam will also be cut off,” Tri said.

InnovGreen was in July, 2008 licenced for a $40 million project to plant 30,000ha of forests in central Quang Nam’s nine districts, many of which, Tri claimed, were “sensitive to the national security and defense”.

Since July 2005, InnovGreen has been trying to cultivate its six big forest plantation projects worth $284.2 million and covering 349,000ha in Thanh Hoa, Quang Ninh, Nghe An, Lang Son, Kon Tum and Quang Nam provinces. However, it has been provided with over 8,600ha due to many reasons, which are mostly related to complicated procedures about giving land to foreign investors.

A reliable source familiar with InnovGreen told VIR that all of these six projects had a great part of their sites located in the country’s sensitive areas. “These projects have been halted for further examination.”

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on March 10, 2010 ordered local governments to freeze giving forest land to foreign investors until the ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Planning and Investment (MPI) reviewed the projects. Dung’s iron hand followed public concerns over forest land leased to foreign investors being located in tracts of old-growth forests, in watersheds and in strategically significant border locations.

Last week, InnovGreen said if the land areas given to it by localities were considered to be “sensitive to Vietnam’s security and defense”, it stood ready to return such areas to localities immediately. “But in that case, localities must give us land in other locations with the same size and leasing period, while compensating us for all cost we have already spent opening roads and growing forests,” said InnovGreen Vietnam’s general director Wu Gwo Wei.

Tri of Quang Nam province, however, said that InnovGreen’s requirement could not be met because there would be no more land for the company’s project.

InnovGreen said that provincial authorities would violate their investment commitments if its projects’ areas were withdrawn without compensation, because all the land areas it leased were physically introduced by localities and its land leasing documents had been carefully examined and approved by relevant ministries and agencies under the government’s regulations.

Source: VIR

Source: QDND

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