The Bien Tien Sa Joint-Stock Company project has completed construction of 40 foundations of villas by military construction company No 319. But Vice Chairman of the Son Tra district’s People’s Committee, Nguyen Thanh Nam, said the infrastructure construction licence for the project had not been approved yet by the city.
“The construction contractor of the project intentionally started building infrastructure of inner traffic road, foundation of 40 villas, destroying all trees in the area north of Son Tra Mountain from 2016,” Nam said at a news briefing on March 18.
“The project has been under assessment of an environment impact process, however, the project owner started building the project while awaiting final decision from the city,” he said.
Guards prevented local reporters from approaching the project, 10km away from the city’s centre.
The project, being built on 1,472sq.m with a total investment of US$9.7 million, is planned to include 56 luxury mountainside villas. The city’s agriculture and rural development had already allowed the project owner to collect firewood and trees in the area for land clearance.
Conservationists from the Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (GreenViet), an NGO, said a series of construction projects and poor management by the local administration would damage the nature reserve that provides food for wildlife.
The Son Tra Nature Reserve, which is 600m above sea level, is known for its rich biodiversity, with 287 animal species and 985 plant species. The reserve has shrunk from more than 4,400ha to 2,500ha to make room for dozens of resorts and hotels in the area.
Tran Huu Vy, director of GreenViet, said the reserve and buffer zone are home to nearly 300 red-shanked douc langurs (Pygathrix nemaeus), which were declared endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2013.
According to GreenViet’s latest survey, over 20 streams in the reserve have dried up – the worst in 20 years. Vy also suggested that the city create a special programme to protect biodiversity in the forest, as well as form an effective and uniform management team to handle illegal hunting and logging.
“It’s an urgent action, or biodiversity in the reserve will soon dwindle,” Vy said. “A checkpoint should be set up to control visitors at three main entrances into the Son Tra reserve, because over 10,000 visitors come to the reserve monthly.”
Last month, authorities asked local residents to demolish 68 illegally built houses, villas and restaurants in the Son Tra Nature Reserve before a September deadline. Violations including illegal logging and hunting were recorded in recent years, due to poor management by the Son Tra-Ngu Hanh Son forest protection sub-department.
The reserve is managed by different agencies, including the Son Tra-Ngu Hanh Son forest protection sub-department, Tho Quang ward’s administration, Son Tra peninsula’s management board of beaches and tourism and the Border Guard, Air Defence and Navy.
Earlier this year, the Government agreed to include the Son Tra Mountain as a national tourism site that will host a luxury eco-tour resort complex and 4.6 million tourists in 2030. Plans call for 1,600 luxury hotel rooms to accommodate 300,000 tourists with expected revenues of VND4.3 trillion (US$190.3 million).
As planned, the Son Tra Mountain, which covers an area of 4,439ha, will have 1,056ha earmarked for development as a national eco-tourism and luxury resort in central Vietnam.
In other news related to illegal construction projects in Son Tra district, the central city also decided to suspend a condotel project on the coastal strip of Vo Nguyen Giap Street.
The city’s construction department said the 43-storey Central Coast project, which was built by Minh Dong company with total investment of VND1.2 trillion (US$53 million), has completed construction of 10 floors since 2016.
Although the project still lacks a construction licence due to land ownership complications, the investors had illegally begun construction, according to a report by the construction department. The project was fined VND42 million (US$1,600).
Last year, the city decided to suspend illegal construction of an apartment project in the city’s downtown Hai Chau district