Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Formosa: Fishermen start to receive compensation

Residents in the central provinces of Hà Tĩnh and Thừa Thiên-Huế affectedby the recent environmental incident started to receive their first-phase compensation package. – Photo thoibao.today
HÀ NỘI – Residents in the central provinces of Hà Tĩnh and Thừa Thiên-Huế affected by the recent environmental incident started to receive their first-phase compensation package.
Central Quảng Trị and Quảng Bình provinces will allocate the compensation from November 10 and 11 respectively, according to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
The report was presented yesterday at the third meeting of the steering committee to stabilise lives and production in four central provinces affectedby marine environmental incidents. The meeting was chaired by Deputy Minister Trương Hòa Bình, also the committee’s leader.
On September 29, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc issued Decision 1880/QĐ-TTg on the compensation levels for damage from the incident caused by Taiwan-invested Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh Steel Company.
Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hòa Bình has agreed to spend VNĐ3 trillion (US$135 million) in advance on compensation. The compensation was sourced from a package of over VNĐ11.5 trillion ($500 million) pledged by Hưng Nghiệp Formosa Hà Tĩnh Steel Company.
According to MARD, the compensation distribution has been behind schedule as northern and central localities were affected by unexpected floods in early October.
Specifically, as of November 7, Thừa Thiên-Huế Province has distributed VNĐ213.9 billion ($9.5million) out of given VNĐ400 billion ($17.7million). Hà Tĩnh Province has allocated VNĐ 49.4 billion ($2.2million) out of given VNĐ1 trillion ($44.5million).
Regarding the Prime Minister’s order on dealing with seafood stocks in frozen stores in four provinces, the Health Ministry said that these provinces have nearly 5,400 tonnes of stock, 82 per cent of which are safe.
Deputy Minister Bình asked the steering committee to deal with these stocks within the month to regain fishermen’s trust.
Tonnes of safe fish that have remained unsold for a prolonged period will increase the damage by hundreds of billions of đồng, Bình said.
The compensation level announced at the meeting determines 100 per cent for fishermen with unsafe inventory which must be destroyed.
Those with out-of-date seafood in stock will be compensated for 70 per cent of losses and out-of-date seafood will be turned into animal feed.
Fishermen with safe seafood in stock will be supported with 30 per cent plus 100 per cent of payment spent on electricity and interest rates.
MARD also proposed that Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc consider increasing compensation levels and adding lists of people affected by the incident.
Bình said that in an effort to help residents following the environmental incident, the Government has looked to compensate for damages, stabilise lives and resume production amongst affected locals.
The project inherits Prime Minister’s decision 1880/QĐ/TTg and opinions of ministries and sectors. The important point of the project is to continue to identify affected people whose compensation has not been determined in the PM’s decision, he said.
He asked MARD to continue to listen to feedback and complete the project.
The Health Ministry, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and Việt Nam Academy of Science and Technology need to update unbiased, accurate and reliable information on sea environment assessment for residents. In particular, information that the ocean environment in four central provinces is now safe for swimming, tourism activities and aquaculture must be widely disseminated, he said.
At the meeting, MARD proposed policies to support fishermen building boats. It is expected that about 1,000 fishing boats will be built or upgraded into offshore fishing boats with capacities of 90 horsepower or more. If the proposal is approved, it will be implemented in 2017 and 2018.
A representative from the Health Ministry said that it takes time to answer the question of when fish at the bottom layer is safe to be consumed.
The ministry proposed health insurance support for those who do not have insurance, starting from 2017.
The mass fish deaths were first reported on April 6 this year when a large number of fish washed ashore in Hà Tĩnh Province. It soon spread to Quảng Bình, Quảng Trị and Thừa Thiên-Huế provinces.
About 70 tonnes of dead fish were found in the four central provinces, and Thừa Thiên-Huế province alone reported 35 tonnes of farm-raised fish had died.
The pollution also affected over 260,000 people who earn their living by working at sea.
Late in June, Formosa Hà Tĩnh accepted responsibility for the mass fish deaths and pledged compensation to support local fishermen and to help renew the polluted marine environment. – VNS


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