Danlambao’s collaborator – Locals’ houses and their lands at Binh Hung Hoa ward, Binh Tan district, Saigon were removed and seized by a roughly 200-strong crowd of uniformed cops, civil defense units and municipal environment members at 7:00 am, March 17, 2016.
Ms.Thanh, whose house was subject to compulsory removal, spoke to Danlambao’s collaborator: “They showed up at 7 am, read the seizure order, and then carried on with house removal and demolition. We requestedpermission to read the order, but they refused.”
Removal of locals’ houses and land clearance were carried out by local authorities with the aim of undertaking the Tham Luong-Ben Cat Project. This program is supposed to handle areas prone to flooding and improve the environment in the municipal center. The authorities started relocation in2004. So far nearly 2,800 households have been moved. The section seized this morning relates to over 200 households of Binh Hung Hoa ward, Binh Tan district.
This project is invested and embarked by the Municipal Anti-Flood Center. Total
investment amounts to USD 450 million, including a loan from the World Bank plus from some investment of the local government.
However, due to the ‘dirt-cheap’ compensation, several households in Binh Tan district refused to be relocated.
One of the victims of the seizure, Mr. Mai Quoc Tuan, told us that the compensation amounted to only one-tenth of what they were supposed to receive. Asked about the base on which households like his could have received only one-tenth of the compensation they were supposed to get, Tuan said:
“The base we rely on is the information we collected from State-owned radio, newspapers and the meeting between Mr. Le Hoang Quan, chairman of HCM City People’s Committee, and the World Bank, which lent Vietnam the money to invest in this project. The government’s website alone clearly stated that the World Bank’s loan of VND 7,000 billion is used to financially support those affected by this project. That’s what the website officially says. In reality, we were announced to receive only 1/10 of the amount. That is, on average each household receives VND 2.5 billion. In this locality, however, we don’t know how the Binh Tan district authorities have manipulated the figures, but eventually each household here receives from VND 150 million to VND 250 million only, meaning that we get merely 1/10 of the value of our house.”
According to the locals’ information, at 19:00 pm in the evening of March 16, there was a meeting betwen the relocated and the authorities. Chairing the meeting was Ms.Pham Thi Ngoc Dieu, vice-chairwoman of Binh Tan District People’s Committee, who was in charge of land clearance. The meeting was proceeded; however, those involved in the meeting were not introduced nor were the minutes of the meeting taken. On the locals’ request, Dieu reluctantly introduced the participants, including representatives of the Investor, the Land Clearance Board and then had the minutes taken.
In answer to some locals’ inquiry about why the meeting was not organized during the daytime, but at night instead, which inconvenienced the people in case they wanted newspaper reporters, Dieu said: “The meeting is legal, whether it is held during the daytime or in the evening.”
Questioned about levels of compensation, Dieu was unable to answer, justifying herself to the people that “This meeting centers around the issue of border markings only. Others are not to be dealt with.” Having said this, Dieu left halfway through the meeting. She neither signed in the minutes nor provided the locals with it.”
More than 3,000 households are negatively affected by the Tham Luong-Ben Cat Project. This means it leaves thousands of people high and dry as they have now lost both their lands and their houses in glaring injustice.