Vietnam villagers push back on crematorium project, citing pollution fears

Residents say they never consented to the plan, and that no compensation for commune land has been paid.
Vietnam villagers push back on crematorium project, citing pollution fears Local residents are pushed by police while trying to stop trucks from entering the worksite of a cemetery project in Nghe An province, Nov. 8, 2021.
Screenshot from video

Villagers in a commune in north-central Vietnam are pushing back hard against a developer’s plans to build a cemetery and crematorium near their homes, saying they fear pollution and have not been consulted on the project, RFA has learned.

Residents of the Hung Tay commune in Nghe An province’s Hung Nguyen district posted a Facebook video on Monday showing police officers violently dispersing villagers who had gathered to protest at the entrance to the site.

The cemetery project at Dai Hue mountain is located uphill and only 1,200 meters (3,937 feet) from the nearest residential area, and villagers had already put up tents at the cemetery’s entrance to stop construction work from moving ahead, local sources said.

“The distance from the project’s fences to where we live is not great enough and it isn’t safe,” one resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “This will affect our lives, and especially our sources of water and wind,” he said.

Though developers say that area residents have already consented to the project, no papers exist to document their agreement, RFA’s source said. “We never signed anything saying we had been consulted, and without this document, the provincial government should never have approved this project.”

Claims by developers that VND 40 billion (U.S. $1,765) has already been paid in compensation for 32.5 hectares of land handed over by government authorities for the project are also false, the source said.

“In fact, we haven’t received any notification about the land that was acquired, about who will receive compensation for the land, or even how much they will receive,” he said. “Where is that VND 40 billion now, and who is holding it?” he asked.

Commune residents have asked provincial authorities and the project’s developers for answers to these questions, but have so far received no response, he said.

'Provoked to protest'

A video of Monday’s clash between residents and police circulated widely on social media this week, with many viewers commenting that villagers had been provoked into launching their protests. Speaking to RFA, one resident said their blockade of the worksite was not aimed at opposing government authority, however.

“All we did was to set up some tents to prevent construction and protect the land,” he said. “That’s all this was, there was nothing else.”

“However, the authorities did send some policemen in, and so a few minor clashes with the residents occurred,” he said, adding that no one had been arrested in the clash.

Attempts to reach Hung Tay commune authorities for comment received no response, and RFA was unable to independently verify reports from another source that police had used weapons to disperse the crowd.

According to state-run Nghe An Television, a majority of the province’s residents have agreed to construction of the cemetery and crematorium, though a few individuals may still oppose the plan due to a “lack of understanding” of the project.

While all land is ultimately held by the state, land confiscations have become a flashpoint as residents accuse the government of pushing small landholders aside in favor of lucrative real estate projects, and of paying too little in compensation.

Reported by RFA's Vietnamese Service. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Richard Finney.


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Nov 10, 2021 05:28 PM

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