Sunday, March 22, 2015


Translated by Ngoc Nhi Nguyen


I have lived in Saigon for 32 years from 1983 to now. From then until the late 1990s Saigon was never flooded by tides or heavy rains. Six years ago - in 2009 - I wrote: 300 years to build and 30 years to tear down to show Saigon government that, after they carried out various urban improvement projects south of Saigon, filling in lakes and ponds to build the residential area Phu My Hung, that it caused flooding in the city of Saigon. Although later, Saigon had Mr Huynh Ngoc Sy's water supply and drainage systems costing tens of thousands of billions, but the city still got flooded in the rainy season.

This is the rule of balance of nature. So, when our ancestors built a house, they would dig a pond and use the dug up dirt to build the house foundation, and use the pond for livestock and crops, but no one would fill ponds and lakes to create new land, causing a water shortage, leading to so called "climate change" causing the high tide to flood the city.

This type of environmental destruction, flooding is now not only in Saigon, but in most cities across the country. Hanoi, Quy Nhon, Can Tho, Thu Dau Mot, etc all become flooded in the rainy season. It is a consequence of learning how to do economics from the Chinese: Exchanging land resources for infrastructure to promote artificial economic growth, through investment and speculative real estate sales.

Dong Nai River panoramic view from the airplane - Photo of Nguoi Dua Tin Newspaper.

During the economic crisis from 2008 until now due to real estate freezing, many businesses fall into bad debt, due to non-core business, such as EVN, PVN, and the joint-stock commercial banks struggle . But Toan Thinh Phat thought that filling up part of Dong Nai river to create new land to serve the real estate business can be more successful in areas where construction is landlocked, and sales are difficult.

Toan Thinh Phat's project is a fundamental mistake

Photo 1: Googloe Earth the area filling up of the Dong Nai River area marked (please click on image to enlarget figure)

Let's look at photo 1, we see the plan to landfill the area circled in red is a mistake scientifically. It will cause inevitable consequences, this area will be washed away by Dong Nai river water after a few rainy seasons. How can I be so sure? Because:

Firstly, Dong Nai River upstream is in the direction toward the junction before dividing into the intersection at Cu Lao Pho. Water will flow from upstream through the area of the new land created by Toan Thinh Phat, and then the flow is divided into branches. This includes a reclining junction with the wider Ghenh bridge on one end, and the narrower Hiep Hoa bridge at the other. The triangular piece of land sticking out like a nose is Cu Lao Pho.

Photo 2 & 3: Areas of Toan Thinh Phat Project filling up the Dong Nai River is marked

The location of landfill to build the new urban areas along the Dong Nai River by Toan Thinh Phat is at the inward curved spot where the river expands prior to branching. (See photo 2 & 3)

Secondly, it is no coincidence that after millions of years the river has these curves. Rivers always have curves, due to the damages caused by the uneven deposits of alluvial on each side, with the river flow turbulent on one bank and still on the other, either with low tide or high tide.

The recessive side is named by our ancestors as the washed away side; the bulging side is named the bulging side. The water flow is always more turbulent on the recessive side and more tranquil without any waves smashing into the bulging side. This is due to the alluvial river bed, deep on one side and shallow on the other. It is responsible for creating the bends of the river.

The formation of this turning point does not only depend on the river bottom, flow and hydrodynamic effects of the flow, but also depends on the soil mechanics on the two sides. Of course, the recessive side is always weaker than the bulging side.

The land which Toan Thinh Phat is creating is on the recessive side. It will be quickly eroded by the river as the impact of the hydrodynamic force is strongest here.

Normal water flow can wear down stones, but flood water can destroy even mountain. So that the area that Toan Thinh Phat creates will soon be washed away by the flood water of Dong Nai River.

Third, upstream of Dong Nai river is the largest dam of the South - Tri An hydroelectric dam. Every rainy season, flood water is released from the dam. Although it was well researched and so well built by the French back in the French colonial period, that is is very safe in regulating water flow downstream. But with deforestation, like the two incidences where the government had to cancel dam projects 6 and 6A also in Dong Nai province in late September 2013, showed there is major lack of forestry to hold water when the rainy season comes.

And even if there is no recess and bulging of the two river banks, is the artificial land that Toan Thinh Phat creates qualifies technically and scientifically to remain after a few seasons of flooding? Because Dong Nai river 's shape is already like that since the beginning of time, not created recently that it can be easily filled in.

Consequently, this added piece of land will push the water flow directly into the nose end of Cu Lao Pho in the future. Cu Lao Pho had the grave, and now the shrine of Admiral Nguyen Huu Canh - the general who was the first to develop the South over 300 years ago - it is the land of national monuments. What will it become?

So, is that land by Toan Thinh Phat worth the money that the people will have to pay to live in peace with the floods caused by the Dong Nai River in the rainy season?

Field of the Dong Nai River to date of 03/26/2015 - Tuoi Tre Newspaper


Our country in 25 years opening up economically has adopted the development strategy of China: exchange natural resources and land to build infrastructure, for economic development, is only an unstable economic strategy, there is no long-term sustainability.

Now, resources are depleted , environment destroyed, but they still cut down trees hundreds of years old in Hanoi, is it not like a stab in the lungs of the people of Hanoi? And filling up the river to make land, is that not the same as destroying the water supply to 6 provinces in the South East and Saigon?

Storm floods in Lai Chau province, Viet Nam in June 2014

The greatest resource of a nation is its people - as I wrote earlier this year. Which country has leaders who know to improve human creativity to the highest level, is the country with the greatest powers, even if the population is only half of ours, like South Korea. The country that only knows how to sell all the resources given by the ancestors for money will forever be a backward country, even China has 1.4 billion people, the total output of the national economy as the world's second, but Mr Ly Khac Cuong had to admit on the 16/03/2015 that, ''China is still a developing country in every sense of the word."


The decision to cut those trees in Ha Noi due to funding up to 73 billions is a mistake to show that the ability and vision of the leaders of the country's capital are poor, but they had to stop due to the pressure and knowledge of the people.

Will the leaders in Dong Nai province see the mistakes and poor vision in allowing Toan Thinh Phat carrying on the land fill project, to stop the project as the leaders in Hanoi?

If the leaders of Dong Nai province, for some reason that is hard to say, can not yet see its errors, will the prime minister and government of Vietnam make the decision to discontinue Toan Thinh Phat's erroneous and dangerous project? as they were wise enough to make the decision to stop hydropower projects 6 and 6A previously also by Dong Nai officials?

Why not do the embankment along the Dong Nai river and build Cach Mang Thang Tam Road along Dong Nai River the same as Vo Van Kiet Boulevard in Saigon, but has to build urban areas by filling in the river, to qualify for " improving urban beauty"?

Asia Clinic, 15'15' Sunday, 22/3/2015

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