In Vietnam, the mighty Mekong’s banks are crumbling as illegal sand miners run riot – South China Morning Post
When the retaining wall of Vietnamese fish farmer Ho Thi Bich Tuyen’s catfish pond collapsed into the Hau River several years ago, she knew who was to blame: illegal sand miners.
“They took the sand, and the riverbed just kept going lower and lower,” she said. “There were so many of them. The sand miners came close to the riverbank. So I told the local ward officials to shoo them away, but at night they came back again…”
The rise in sand demand endangers the lives of children, laborers, journalists and environmental defenders.
Greed over grains of sand has a fatal human cost: As cities rise and countries urbanize, sand-related murders and other associated crimes have taken a toll on poverty-stricken communities.
In parts of the globe, where sand is extracted, criminal gangs and sand mafias control the multi-billion dollar trade, spawning violence in land-rich, developing nations. On their trail are hundreds of people — miners, journalists and environmental defenders — reported to have been killed, imprisoned or threatened…
The greed for grains of sand comes at an ecological disaster and fatal human cost; murders and other associated crimes which have taken a toll on poverty-stricken communities, particularly women.
The ERC investigation, Beneath the Sands, exposes how greed for grains of sand comes at a fatal human cost: As cities rise in number and countries urbanize rapidly, sand mining-related murders and other associated crimes have taken a toll on poverty-stricken communities…
The rising demand for sand to resume post-pandemic growth drives unregulated and illegal sand mining in the Mekong River, where people living along its banks have lost their houses and fortunes to severe erosion.
One October morning in Vietnam’s Dong Thap province, 72-year-old Nguyen Thi Cam sat on the banks of the Mekong River, staring at dredgers hoovering up sand in the distance.
“My house was over there before,” she said, pointing to a raft floating about 50 meters from the riverbank…
The need for sand to build roads and infrastructure in Vietnam charges ahead with few restraints as land and houses are lost.
The only traces of Long Phu Thuan, an islet in the Mekong River in Vietnam’s Dong Thap province, can now only be found in old maps.
Much of the islet belonged to Le Van Phi, a 70-year-old farmer. Back in 1976, he explored the islet and converted 0.4 hectares of it into farmland. He grew corn, soybeans and chili peppers in the dry season, and rice in the flooding season…