Squatters threaten prize relics

LookAtVietnam - Many relics and other popular sites in the southern province of Kien Giang have been taken over by trespassers and squatters despite authorities efforts to protect them.

Tourists at Mui Nai Beach. Restaurants discharging untreated wastewater are polluting the beach while historical sites in the area are under threat from squatters and tresspassers.

The Mo So Mountain in Kien Luong District, for instance, was recognised as a national historical site in 1985 and its caves with beautiful stalactites are a popular destination for local and international tourists.

But the path to the mountain has dozens of shops selling food and souvenir. Around 50m from the foot, people have illegally built houses and there is a small canal full of sewage and rubbish.

According to national heritage laws, Zone 1, the main historical site, is afforded the highest protection, with Zone 2 being the places surrounding the main site.

Both areas should be preserved in their original states. Any construction to support or protect the sites should be approved by the authorities.

According to the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, there are 35 historical sites in the locality, including 22 that are recognised as national sites and 13 as provincial sites.

Nine of them have been abused for a long time. Zone I, which has the highest sanctity, has people living in the caves. During the war against the US, the caves were used for making weapons, but now Nguyen Van Tu and his family live in one of them.

“I have lived here since 2000. The cave is wide and spacious and I would love to open a restaurant here,” Tu said, adding that all his family’s activities take place in the cave.

His younger brother’s family lives in another cave. Tuoi Tre newspaper reported recently that the families had built toilets near the mountain, causing severe pollution.

According to the Kien Luong District historical relic and beautiful sites management board, 53 families live in the historical relic area, including seven that lived there before the sites were recognised asnational heritage.

Worse is around the corner where Holcim Cement has begun to mine rocks 100m from the site.

Nguyen Minh Ke, head of the management board, said: “In the near future, other limestone mountains near Mo So will be quarried and razed to the ground, leaving the historical site standing alone. A natural site is only beautiful if it is located in an appropriate setting.”

A recent inspection by the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism found many stalls selling souvenirs and food right in front of Thach Dong Cave, littering and polluting the site.

Mui Nai Landscape, one of the 10 most beautiful sites in the province’s Ha Tien city, is also being abused by restaurants that discharge untreated wastewater.

Nguyen Chi Nhan, the department’s deputy chief inspector, said inspectors from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism have instructed the restaurants several times to build waste-treatment systems to make sure no untreated waste water is released into the surroundings, but to no avail.

Source: Vietnam New


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