Houses along Ho Chi Minh City’s Xuyen Tam canal will be torn down under government redevelopment plans affecting around 20,000 households near what are known as the ‘black canals’, AFP reported.

Having lived on the canals for 28 years, Nguyen Thi My is deeply concerned.

Nguyen, who sells snacks for a living, said relocating would be difficult as she is so familiar with the canals, and this benefits her business. Nguyen is only one of the many people to be affected by the plans, which will demolish most of the establishments in the area by 2020.

The current waterways will be transformed into Paris-like promenades, modern shops, buildings and smooth roads.

So far, about 36,000 households have been removed from the canals. Residents were reportedly either forced to relocate to the outskirts of the city, or pressured to accept compensation payments that fell far below their homes’ market values.

And yet, some residents of the canals welcome the redevelopment plans. Le The Thanh, 61, said some residents pollute the canal, which makes it hard to live there. Le also expressed interest in moving away.

Back when Vietnam was still under French rule, the canals were major routes for moving people and goods until the country modernized and the city population grew from an influx of refugees in the 60s. Afther then, the canal became a hotspot for illegal settlements.