A coal-fired power plant in Thai Binh Province, northern Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Chinh.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered state agencies to monitor factory emissions and clamp down on those found to exceed dangerous levels.
Phuc called on provincial and urban authorities to immediately review and evaluate industrial plant, transport and construction emissions.
He asked law enforcement agencies to suspend operations negatively impacting the environment.
The directive mentioned the worsening air quality in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and other localities, affecting socio-economic development and public health. It blamed the low air quality on large-scale construction, emissions from a large number of private vehicles, and intensive industrial activity.
It also said green urban space and water supply remains subpar, with enforcement, implementation and synchronization of air pollution controls a serious dilemma.
Natural Resources and Environment departments were urged to assist production facilities in installing automatic emission monitors, with all collected data evaluated on a daily basis.
Le Vu Tuan Anh, chief inspector of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said Vietnam Environment Administration will be implementing an inspection program of major emission sources around Hanoi should the proposal be approved.
Research conducted by Vietnamese experts showed the nation suffered between $10.8- $13.2 billion worth of economic losses associated with ambient air pollution each year, equivalent to about 5 percent of the country’s GDP.
Vietnam ranked fourth in the number of pollution-linked deaths in the Western Pacific, with an estimated 71,365 Vietnamese people losing their lives to pollution, including 50,232 to air pollution, in 2017, the latest year for which data was available, according to the Pollution and Health Metrics report by Global Alliance on Health and Pollution.