Last update 7/24/2012 9:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

Mekong Delta industrial parks lie idle
Vast areas in industrial parks built in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta remain unutilised for years even as thousands of farmers remain landless after their lands are acquired for the parks.

Most of the 131-ha Binh Minh IP in Vinh Long Province's Binh Minh District remains unused, merely serving as pasture for cattle to graze.

Nguyen Thi Bich Nhien, a resident of the local My Hoa, said people have purchased cattle from Cambodia and let them graze in the industrial park since it was established eight years ago.

Nguyen Van Son, another resident, said he received compensation of VND100 million (nearly US$4,800) for 3,000sq.m of land he gave up to the My Hoa IP.

Like other residents in the area, most of whom used to cultivate Nam Roi pomelo, the famous Delta speciality, Son became jobless after losing his land to the industrial park and earns his living as a hired labourer.

Similarly, hundreds of ha of land in Song Hau IP in Hau Giang Province's Chau Thanh District remain unused, creating favourable conditions for animal husbandry.

Pham Van Chom, chairman of a local commune, said the 291-ha Song Hau IP has only one tenant, a 56-ha seafood processing plant.

People who were affected by the IP have resumed cultivation of rice and other crops on their lands, he added.

In 2007 Nguyen Van Sang and his family had to move from their home in Dong Phu Commune. But now he cultivates rice and other crops on 10,000sq.m inside the IP, an area larger than what he had owned before 2007.

But Sang fears it is a "temporary" existence since he has to return the land to the IP some time in the future.

Waste of land

According to Nhan Dan (People) newspaper, the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta's 20 IPs have 3,645ha, but only 810ha have been leased out.

Of its 15,457ha of industrial complexes, only 700ha have been taken.

A lot of arable land has been lost to these projects, leaving hundreds of families landless.

At an average yield of 15 tonnes of rice per ha, some 260,000 tonnes of paddy have thus been lost annually.

"Provincial authorities in the Delta are calling for more investment into IPs and industrial complexes, leading to competition among provinces and more waste of land," Dr Vo Hung Dung, head of Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Can Tho branch, said.

Dr Le Van Banh, head of the Mekong Rice Research Institute, said: "The development of IPs and industrial complexes requires serious consideration.

"Provincial authorities should not allocate rice fields and other arable lands to IP and industrial complex projects. This is a big waste of land, he stressed."