» » Red River project causes concerns about trespassing on sacred sites

A project to build a city along the Red River’s banks has ignited controversy. An architect and a geologist discuss the pros and cons of the plan.

* Architect Tran Thanh Van:

I think the idea to build a city along the banks of the Red River is unreasonable. I recently published my feng-shui reasons for this. In 1010, King Ly Thai To chose Dai La Citadel [former Hanoi] to become the capital city because it was where mountains and rivers converge.

The project will destroy the feng-shui of Thang Long. But it’s a complicated issue not everyone can understand so here I want to talk about the cultural side to my argument.

The second part of the project will involve building more than 100 high-storey buildings on the land along the dike between Ho Tay (West Lake) and the Red River.

Architects here all consider this area from West Lake to Co Loa Commune a sacred cultural space. Two thousand years ago, King An Duong Vuong chose Co Loa as his kingdom. Later, after defeating the Southern Han (Chinese) invaders in 939, Ngo Quyen chose it as the capital. Many other kings, like Bo Cai Dai Vuong Phung Hung and Hung Dao Dai Vuong Tran Quoc Tuan won glorious victories against foreign invaders in this river.

We think of this area as an altar for our ancestors: a place where we can worship them. But the project planners ignored all this.

The plan, once implemented, will not only take away this sacred land but also destroy one particularly special characteristic of Hanoi – its flower villages. Hundred-year old flower and bonsai villages such as Nghi Tam, Quang Ba and Tu Lien lie outside the river dike. If this plan goes ahead they will have to move.

I don’t understand why the planners took into account Bat Trang pottery village but ignored these flower villages. We can exploit land outside the Red River but not these places. What will happen to Hanoi if thousands of households, used to making a living by planting flowers and bonsai, are forced to move to high-storey buildings?

* Dr Phan Van Quynh, Geology Faculty, Ha Noi University of Sciences:

When researching the possibilities to expand Ha Noi along the two banks of the Red River, we don’t need to talk about whether Vietnam’s river is similar to South Korea’s Han River. But if we say that the two rivers are the same so that Hanoi can expand like Seoul, it wouldn’t be true.

In Vietnam, there is another river called Han, its source in the central region’s highland area, flowing to the sea via Da Nang Bay. This river has some similarities to Seoul’s Han River. As a result, Da Nang City can develop as other cities along rivers worldwide.

But the only similarity between Seoul’s Han River and the Red River is the fact they both have water.

Let’s start with the basics. The Red River is 1,149km long, the Han River 514km long. The Hong River rises from China’s Yunnan, running through Vietnam with two tributary rivers Da and Lo, each of which is already of about the same size as the Han River. The annual water level of the Hong River can exceed 122bil cu.m with total alluvia topping 80mil cu.m. This is what the Han River doesn’t have. High sediment levels can cause water levels to rise, posing immeasurable danger when we try to stop and narrow the flow.

The Han River, together with Seoul City, lie within a valley surrounded by mountains. Even in the city there are mountains like Imum, Jongam, Acheon with heights from 200 to 300m. The special terrain means Seoul doesn’t need a dike.

Meanwhile, the Red River lies in a delta with a synchronous dike system to protect not only Hanoi residents but all those in the river delta. As a result, the development of Hanoi should be calculated with thought to the whole region. But in terms of the Han, South Koreans need only think about the 40km in Seoul.

Another difference is the weather. Seoul in January and August ranges between 2 degrees Celsius and 24-26 degree Celsius, respectively. The correlative temperatures in Hanoi are 15 degrees Celsius and 32-37 degree Celsius.

The average rainfall in Seoul in winter and summer are 50-70mm and 650-700mm, respectively. Meanwhile the average rainfall in Hanoi in February can exceed 100mm and in the rainy season reach between 900-1,000mm, not mentioning the rainfall in the upper reaches of Bac Quang District (Ha Giang Province), which can be over 3,000-3,200mm.

Seoul, as mentioned above, lies within a narrow mountain valley while Hanoi is in a large delta. The geology of Hanoi and Seoul are completely different.

Of course, the city planning isn’t just based on the natural conditions. However, the argument that the project will succeed based on the similarities of the Hong River and the Han River is unscientific. Vietnamese people should also be aware South Korea are considering a plan to remove the capital to another place with better conditions.

The Red River, together with its vitality and green trees, is the artery of Hanoi. We cannot use it wastefully or against its natural position. This means environmental improvements are vital for areas outside the dike to modernise and improve Hanoi. It’s important that the public have all the available information on this.

Source: Viet Nam News

Post a Comment