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Hanoi wants to end straw burning this year
Anh Kiet - Thuy Anh 07:50, 2020/09/23
The habit of burning straw is causing smog in Hanoi, affecting the city’s environment and people's health.

The Hanoi People's Committee has issued a directive to stop burning straw in the city by the end of this year to avoid pollution, Kinh Te & Do Thi reported.

Accordingly, the committee has requested the People's Committees of districts to regularly monitor, control and strictly handle violations on solid waste burning regulation; build a community monitoring system to detect and denounce activities of illegal solid waste burning in the locality.

 Straw is burned on a paddy field on Hanoi outskirts. Photo: Kham

The municipal People's Committee has also asked the Department of Natural Resources and Environment to guide, urge and supervise the People's Committees of districts to develop and implement plans to enforce the directive.

Besides, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment has called on domestic and international organizations to help Hanoi treat straw, other crop by-products and other waste.

Chairpeople of the People's Committees of districts must take responsibility to ensure that from January 1, 2021, residents in the localities will not burn straw, crop residues and other waste in their localities.

Toxic habit

The habit of burning straw is causing smog in Hanoi, affecting the city’s environment and people's health. Rice farming is practiced in 20 suburban districts, the department said.

Everytime Hanoi farmers finish harvesting rice, dowtown dwellers complain about the smog in caused by the burning of straw in the city’s rural areas. This post-harvest practice has been around for a long time and this year is no exception, causing discomfort to citizens.

According to Hanoi’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment, farms in the city generate more than one million tons of agricultural waste yearly, including 642,000 tons of straw, 171,000 tons of husk, 204,000 tons of corn stalks/leaves and 68,000 tons of cob. More than 36% of agricultural waste in the city is burned. 

  A farmer burns a rice field after harvest in Ngoc My commune, Thanh Oai district, Hanoi. Photo: Phuong Nga

A farmer named Minh in Sui Village, Dang Xa commune, Gia Lam district told Kinh Te & Do Thi newspaper that after harvesting, her whole village suffered from smoke due to straw burning.

“We know that burning straw is not good for human health and the environment but we don’t know what to do with the straw except for burning it,” Minh said, adding that the burned straw could be used as fertiliser for the next crop and the burning takes little time.

Trong Dung, a taxi driver who usually drives to and from Noi Bai International Airport said that after he crossed Thang Long bridge to the rural areas of Hanoi, his visibility was reduced due to smoke.

“The smog threatens road safety, especially during bad weather,” Dung said.

Straw burning threatens flight safety at Hanoi airport

Aviation authorities have warned smoke caused by burning straw on fields near Noi Bai International Airport threatens flight safety, because dense smoke hinders pilots' visibility during landing.

Noi Bai International Airport, some 30 kilometers to the north of Hanoi's downtown, is Vietnam's second biggest airport after Tan Son Nhat in Ho Chi Minh City.

To guarantee the safety of flights at one of the country's busiest airports, the Northern Airports Authority urged Hanoi’s government to take urgent measures to stop people from burning straw in the airport’s vicinity and increase the frequency of patrols to deal with perpetrators.

In an interview with Kinh Te & Do Thi, Mai Trong Thai, head of the city’s Environment Protection Division under the Environment Department, said that straw burners were not fined because straw burning is not regulated.

A hectare of rice produces about 10-12 tons of straw, Thai said, adding that burning thousands of tons of straw yearly could emit a huge volume of greenhouse gases that pollutes the air and harms human health.

“The city has been seeking solutions to curb straw burning and end the bad habit by late 2020,” Thai stressed.

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