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Vietnam leader calls for wildlife safeguards at Ha Long Bay construction site

BLOOMBERG – Vietnamese officials are being ordered to tighten environmental protections in the province where an approved project featuring villas and seven-storey hotels near the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay triggered a public outcry.

Quang Ninh Province People’s Council Chairman Nguyen Xuan Ky directed local agencies to improve preservation management of Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay ecosystems and biodiversity, according to a posting on the provincial government’s news website.

The province, he added, won’t “attract investment at all costs” or trade environmental protections for economic growth.

Reports of the project jutting into waters near Ha Long Bay triggered an uproar. Deputy Prime Minister Tran Hong Ha ordered the Ministry of Construction, along with the environment and culture ministries and provincial authorities, to investigate the project and report back to Vietnam Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh before November 25, according to a statement on the Vietnam government’s website.

Construction plans, which were approved by the province in 2021, include at least 451 villas and townhouses, multiple seven-storey hotels and other buildings for roughly 2,500 residents near Ha Long Bay and Bai Tu Long Bay, Tien Phong newspaper reported on its website.

Do Gia Capital Company Ltd spent about VND1.2 trillion (USD49.2 million) for rights to build the urban project after winning a land auction, according to the report.

Do Gia Capital representatives were not immediately available for comment.

After news organisations reported details of the construction site, Quang Ninh’s department of natural resources and environment fined Do Gia Capital VND125 million for failing to comply with an approved environmental impact assessment.

Aerial photo shows the construction site of a residential and hotel complex near Ha Long Bay in Vietnam’s Quang Ninh province. PHOTO: AFP