According to the Government’s Decree No. 38/2015/ND-CP dated 24th April 2015 on management of wastes and scraps, industrial clusters (ICs) are collectively referred to as industrial zones due to their common characteristics as centralized production areas of many production, business and service establishments. However, because the formation of ICs is mostly not planned, mainly areas for localities to relocate production, business and service establishments that pollute the environment, or license to operate for types of businesses with local pollution risk. Therefore, established ICs are mostly small-scale (from a few hectares to several tens of hectares) and only within the scope of local management; They are not centralized production zones (Industrial zones) established by Decision of the Prime Minister, so the planning for environmental protection and management entities in each locality for ICs is also very different. The production scale of investment projects in ICs is mostly small and medium, or only equivalent to the household size; facilities, technical infrastructure for transport and environmental protection in ICs are also limited. However, the important role of ICs in the socio-economic development and job creation of many localities can not be denied in recent years but are still worries about environmental protection in ICs.
To solve the problem of wastewater treatment in ICs, there must be a comprehensive planning right from the beginning
State of environmental protection in ICs
The process of environmental management in ICs recently showed that environmental protection in ICs is always a hot issue and difficult to solve, especially in ICs of craft villages (Phong Khê paper craft village IC, Bắc Ninh; Thái Phương textile-dyeing IC, Thái Bình...).
In general, ICs have the same shortcomings and limitations that need to be addressed and resolved:
First, lack of technical infrastructure planning for environmental protection. Because most ICs are formed to solve environmental problems, to ensure rapid relocation, instead of planning and investing in IC infrastructure, this very important stage is almost ignored. After ICs were filled, investment in infrastructure for wastewater collection, treatment and rainwater drainage was planned, making it difficult to implement. Many ICs, when formed, did not have infrastructure and were invested by businesses themselves, so they were quite fragmented and lack of consistency. Implementing the investment policy in technical infrastructure is difficult, many ICs are almost unable to perform, or only resolved in the direction of forced selection of technical infrastructure planning according to the current construction status, due to problems of compensation and site clearance, which are very complicated and expensive.
Second, there is no environmental impact assessment (EIA) report, this is a common situation in many ICs. Due to time pressure and lack of infrastructure investors from the beginning, most ICs in the past had no EIA, thus causing environmental consequences. Even some ICs have become hot spots of the local environment due to the concentration of many production establishments in one area but no EIA, ICs in an inappropriate location (In the inner city, town, near residential area….).
Third, treatment of wastes from ICs remains inadequate and limited. For centralized production zones, the biggest environmental problem is wastewater treatment, especially for ICs where establishments are generating a lot of wastewater. To solve the wastewater treatment problem, there must be a comprehensive planning from the beginning with the following stages: Connection - collection - treatment - discharge to the receiving source. However, doing this without planning right from the establishment of ICs is very difficult, this is why many ICs currently do not have a centralized wastewater treatment system.
Because most of production establishments in ICs are small-scale with outdated technology, economic efficiency is low, so the amount of generated wastes is large, which means the cost of waste treatment increases, therefore solid waste treatment and investment in gas emission treatment system are not paid attention, leading to many ICs being contaminated with solid wastes, industrial gas emissions.
Fourth, no zoning of functional subdivisions. In centralized production, business and service zones, the zoning of functional subdivisions is very important in order to eliminate the possibility that the types of production in ICs can interact, conflict on the environment, that make complaints. Because the zoning of functional subdivisions is only assessed and planned in the EIA, so without EIA, conflicts and interactions on the environment will arise when the projects in ICs are put into operation.
Fifth, environmental landscape is damaged, making it difficult to ensure the ratio of the area of green trees and grass. Because it was not planned from the beginning, the construction of transport infrastructure in ICs and the system of green trees, grass, and auxiliary works along the internal roads of ICs was carried out in a patchy manner. The rate of green trees and grass cover is also low, according to the regulations of the Ministry of Construction, for centralized production zones, this rate used to be 20%, now it is prescribed not less than 10% of the area of ICs; However, due to lack of planning from the beginning, it is difficult for many ICs to reach this rate.
Sixth, there is no infrastructure investor for ICs. For centralized production zones, having an infrastructure investor means that the centralized production zone will be invested with a comprehensive infrastructure, including environmental infrastructure. Therefore, ICs without IC infrastructure investors will be managed by an IC Development Center, District IC Management Unit, District Construction Investment Project Management Unit. In some provinces, ICs are under the management of Department of Industry and Trade, or some ICs are under the management of Provincial Management Unit of Industrial Zones. The reason for ICs that have not yet had an infrastructure investor is mainly due to the relatively small area of ICs, investment is facing many difficulties, some newly established ICs have infrastructure planning, with investors, but all strive to be added to the planning and upgraded to industrial zones. The investment in IC infrastructure if only using the budget, but not from the source of socialization, will face many difficulties in the condition that the local budget is limited and the environmental protection in ICs will not be paid appropriate attention.
Strengthen environmental protection in ICs
To overcome shortcomings and limitations in environmental protection in ICs, in the coming time, key line agencies need to jointly implement groups of specific solutions as follows:
First, for existing ICs, it is necessary to have the drastic participation of People's Committees at all levels in reviewing established ICs in the area to have a plan for investment in infrastructure of ICs through the completion of EIA; infrastructure planning, including plan for compensation and support for land clearance for investment in infrastructure of ICs completely and consistently. Suspend the planning of IC development instead of industrial zones, only license investment for new projects in ICs that have invested in complete infrastructure.
Second, promote the policy of socialization, attract investment in IC infrastructure instead of the state budget.
Third, increase communication, dissemination and strongly deploy the cleaner production program in production establishments in ICs; adopt policies to support the transformation of production technology towards modernization, energy saving and environmental friendliness.
Fourth, promote activities of inspection and investigation of responsibilities for environmental management of ICs and production establishments in ICs; special supervision is required for ICs that are hot spots and in urgent environmental conditions to step by step complete the requirements of environmental procedures for investment in ICs and waste treatment in ICs, or production establishments in ICs.
Obviously, industrial development has always been the backbone of the country's socio-economic development, including an indispensable role of ICs. In order to achieve the sustainable development goals, it is very necessary to have the drastic participation of the ministries, sectors and People's Committees at all levels to strengthen the environmental management of ICs in the coming time.
Hoàng Văn Vy - Deputy Director
Northern Environmental Protection Agency, Vietnam Environment Administration
(Source: Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine, English Edition I - 2021)