Golf courses swallowing Vietnam’s farmland

This land in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong will soon be a golf course

From the north to the Mekong Delta, land is being reclaimed to build golf courses, the newest symbols of Vietnam’s economic success.

But the thousands of hectares of crop land newly-zoned for golf courses means that thousands of farmers are slated for relocation.

Many farmers are unsure about their futures after relocation.

Most do not know how they will make a living once their paddies become fairways, greens and sand traps.

Will they be compensated properly for their relocation? Will they be given good homes with the ways and means to earn a good living?

Golf course gluttony

In Ho Chi Minh City and its five adjacent provinces alone, 34 new golf-course projects – some 13,000 hectares worth – have been licensed so far.

Ho Chi Minh City and its five neighboring provinces are already home to an average of two golf courses each.

GOVERNMENT ACTION

The Ministry of Planning and Investment has launched a task force that will review golf course projects in southern provinces and cities next Monday.

To control the country’s ballooning number of golf courses, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to revise the zoning of golf courses, reassess the effects of those already licensed, and submit its findings by May.

Phan Huu Thang, head of the Foreign Investment Bureau under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, said that local authorities have the power to license golf courses without central approval, and many had done so in a bid to woo more investment.

In the Mekong Delta province of Long An, 3 new golf courses have been approved this year.

Of 777 hectares of rice paddies in Long An’s My Phu Commune, 256 are set to be reclaimed to build golf courses.

Some 600 households would be relocated in the process.

But not all such land is for golf-courses only.

Most golf-course projects come attached to four or five-star resort projects.

In fact, of the 5,000 hectares slated for golf projects in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, only 991 is zoned for the golf courses themselves.

The rest is for resort complexes attached to the golf courses.

But farmers down south in Long An – possibly a new golfing “hotspot” – have said they have no need for a golf course or a resort, they would rather have the money to improve their irrigation ditches.

They complained that all they had to hope for was that their land clearance compensations would be enough to begin new lives.

Neighboring Long An, in Tien Giang Province, a 180-hectare Chau Thanh District golf course has been approved and will relocate some 6,000 local residents.

In the central highlands province of Lam Dong, a golf course project has been given the right to build on tea-growing lands.

Local residents and tea-growers have complained that the 200 hectares earmarked for two golf courses in Lam Dong’s Bao Lam District should remain part of the area’s tea zone.

In the north, Hanoi is considering the applications of six new golf course projects, adding to the two the capital city already has, said the municipal government.

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