Residents clash with polluters

Nguyen Van Tuan was attacked by truck drivers on August 29 after he and others at Da Nang City’s Hoa Lien Commune blocked vehicles from entering a construction site. A survey by Nielsen found environmental concerns in Vietnam has shifted from climate change to environmental pollution.

The pollution controversy in Da Nang City’s Hoa Lien Commune reached its peak early this week when thousands of residents surrounded the office of a local company that has been polluting their neighborhoods and assaulting community members who dare protest.

Earlier, residents had blocked a street leading to the Golden Hills Urban Area project in the central city’s Hoa Vang District because they said construction trucks were polluting the area with dust and dirt.

There were several similar incidents over the past month, the most significant of which was when the furious community stopped all trucks to the site around the clock for five days August 25-29.

But at around 9:30 p.m. on August 29, five men in two trucks arrived at the house of Nguyen Van Tuan, a leader of the truck-stopping crowd, and attacked him with iron pipes and swords, seriously injuring the 40-year-old man.

The attackers fled the scene after Tan’s wife and son ran to neighboring houses for help.

After taking Tuan to the hospital, the frustrated residents gathered in a crowd of more than a thousand people and surrounded the office of the construction project’s investor, the Ho Chi Minh City-based construction company Trung Nam Group, at the construction site.

They smashed the glass windows of the facility and demanded that the company hand over the attackers. However, no one was present at the company and the residents stayed there until Tuesday morning.

Dang Phu Hanh, deputy chairman of Hoa Vang People’s Committee, the local government, told Thanh Nien that the residents were frustrated because the company had polluted the streets with dirt carried by the trucks to fill the site.

He said the company had ignored an order from his agency to regularly clean the streets.

Hanh said police launched an inspection on Monday night to identify the men who attacked Tuan. Another investigation was also launched into charges of property destruction at the company’s office.

Meanwhile, Trung Nam Group said the company had not prompted the men to attack Tam. However, it admitted that one of the two trucks that showed up at Tuan’s house belonged to the company and that it would investigate its drivers.

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