Cat Tien hydropower project stirs debate

November 12, 2012 | 14:55
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The backer of a controversial plan to build two hydropower projects in pristine Cat Tien National Park has jumped to the defence of the project.  

Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange-listed Duc Long Gia Lai Group director Nguyen Dinh Trac said the Dong Nai 6 and 6A plants would not be “harmful to Cat Tien National Park as the public and mass media would think.”

The 135 megawatt, VND4.41 trillion ($212 million) Dong Nai 6 and the 106MW, VND3.44 trillion ($165.6 million) Dong Nai 6A, covering Lam Dong, Dak Nong and Binh Phuoc provinces, would use 372ha including 137ha of Cat Loc area and 235ha of protection forests.

Since early last year, the projects have made big media headlines with fears for the 137 hectares of Cat Tien National Park granted world’s Biosphere Reserve status  in 2001 and 144ha of Southern Cat Tien protection forest. To make matters worse, these projects are reported to be illegal because they have not been ratified by the National Assembly. Under Clause 3 of the National Assembly’s Resolution 49/2010/QH12 dated June 19, 2010, the transformation of any 50ha of national or special forests into other non-forest purposes must be considered and approved by the National Assembly.

Moreover, the projects are also found to violate the Law on Biological Diversity issued in 2008.

However, “whether these projects will be approved by the National Assembly or not depends on the government and the prime minister,” said the company’s chairman Bui Phap.

Phap said these projects were located in the northern edge of the park’s Cat Loc area, 30 kilometres from the park’s Bau Sau area and Southern Cat Tien area which are the restricted forests.
“Thus construction of the projects will not hurt the park’s biological values and the environment,” he said.

Trac said the projects had been valued, appraised and approved by many ministries including Planning and Investment, Finance, Construction, Agriculture and Rural Development, Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), National Defense, and Industry and Trade.

On July 21, 2011, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued Decision 1208/QD-TTg approving Power Master Planning VII between 2011-2020, with a vision to 2030, in which the Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A would become operational by 2015 and 2016, respectively.

By Thanh Dat

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