Densely populated Saigon is now one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world.?
Densely populated Saigon is now one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world. Pollution in the South Vietnamese capital has kept pace with a population density that increased in recent years to make it the world's most densely populated city.
Figures of a few months ago show that Saigon has twice as many people per square mile compared to Tokyo, the world's second city in terms of population density. The population of New York and London, by contrast, is less than one third as densely populated as Saigon.
Ten years ago, Saigon's city and suburbs had less than one million people. Today there are almost four million. The city as it stands was built for about half a million. The massive increase has been blamed almost entirely on the Vietnam war. The biggest influx has been refugees, mainly from rural areas as well as from the smaller towns and cities of the country.
Many of these refugees tried to recaptures some of the flavour of their country life by living around Saigon canals. Now, the canals are so polluted that even the children avoid swimming and playing in the water. In Asia that is almost unique.
The fumes from one million motor cycles and scooters, as well as worn military vehicles, have contributed enormously to worsening the city's air pollution problem. Most of the streets of Saigon were tree-lined, but on busy roads, the fumes have killed many trees.
Doctors and hospitals have reported growing numbers of patients suffering form lung and respiratory troubles.
With the end of the war perhaps in sight, the pollution and populations problem could be improved. Perhaps as many as one and a half to two million people in Saigon could be encouraged to return to their villages and the countryside.