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Community benefits should prevail
The Saigon Times Daily
Monday,  Jul 17, 2017,17:44 (GMT+7)

Community benefits should prevail

The Saigon Times Daily

The discussion on the priceless value of Son Tra in Danang City captured the public attention again when a seminar on the future of the peninsula was held on Saturday, attracting the participation of 180 delegates being scientists, experts and policymakers. The consensus was reached at the end of the seminar: keep Son Tra intact.

This is the first scientific seminar on Son Tra since the announcement of a master zoning plan for tourism development on the peninsula in late 2016 that has stirred up protests and controversies. Following the master plan, heated debates have surfaced, with several State agencies including the Vietnam National Administration for Tourism and investors upholding the plan to develop tourism facilities on the island, and the widespread public including scientists protesting the idea on the other side.

Government leaders, including Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, have hinted at readiness to make changes to the zoning plan, and have urged related agencies to organize seminars to weigh all pros and cons in tourism development on Son Tra. So the seminar last Saturday is a good chance for all related parties to speak out their opinions.

Lawyer Truong Trong Nghia, who is also a deputy of the National Assembly, told the seminar that Son Tra is a valuable natural heritage that once destroyed will never be recoverable. The heritage can still holds economic values in the long term, but to tap such values, the heritage must be preserved.

Such a viewpoint won applause, and was echoed by many speakers at the seminar.

Pham Viet Thuan, head of the Economic Institute for Natural Resources and Environment, stressed that “there is only one option for Son Tra, which is preservation. If tourism development is to be allowed, no lodging facilities should be accepted,” according to Vnexpress.

Nguyen Hoang Tri, president of the Vietnam National Committee for Man and Biosphere Program, said the presence of human beings will certainly have impact on the environment, “which is the logic we must accept and speak out to have the correct option for Son Tra. There can’t be development alongside preservation.”

Huynh Tan Vinh, chairman of Danang Tourism Association, asserted that “preservation is the duty of the community, and only so can development be sustainable. The priceless treasure like Son Tra cannot be handed over to a group of investors.”

Many other scientists at the seminar highly valued the rich biodiversity of Son Tra, and stressed that such values must be preserved for the community benefits, not only for now but also for future generations. Delegates at the seminar also agreed to send petitions to the Government, the National Assembly, and Danang City government to keep the status quo at Son Tra, banning all constructions there whether such projects have been licensed or not, to safeguard the community benefits.

It is expected that the petition will be accepted, since Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has earlier affirmed that if necessary, the Government will approve to take Son Tra out of the national tourism development plan. Community benefits should prevail.

The Saigon Times Daily

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