Boycott fear forces Vedan to pay for polluting Thi Vai River over 14 years

Consumers succeed where governments failed as Vedan capitulates on compensation demand

Products of Taiwanese-owned monosodium glutamate maker Vedan were taken off the shelves at a Saigon Co.op supermarket in Ho Chi Minh City. Officials said the boycott of Vedan’s products at local retailers has partly prompted the company to accept the compensation claims of affected farmers.

Taiwanese river polluter Vedan Vietnam has caved in to public anger and agreed to pay full compensation to affected farmers.

Vedan Vietnam was caught in 2008 discharging untreated effluents directly into the Thi Vai River in Dong Nai Province through secret underground pipes. It had been doing this for 14 years, inflicting serious damage on the river system, fish farms as well as rice fields located on the banks of the river.

The Saigon Co.op and Big C supermarket chains announced last week that they had stopped selling Vedan products.

“Vedan’s leaders want to end the case and don’t want farmers to bring it to court,” said Nguyen Thai Lai, deputy minister of Natural Resources and Environment.

“We hope that Vedan Company will continue operating efficiently and for the long-term in Vietnam on condition that it properly compensates affected farmers for what it caused,” he added.

In an interview with press agencies after the meeting, Vedan Vietnam General Director Yang Kun Hsiang said they will pay 50 percent of the compensation within one week of signing an agreement with authorities, and the other 50 percent will be paid next January.

It’s not over yet

However, Nguyen Van Phung, chairman of HCMC Farmers’ Association said, “Our viewpoint is that everything will only end after Vedan pays the compensation.”

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