Substandard hydropower projects will continue facing Days of Judgment until next year.
Minister of Industry and Trade (MoIT) Minister Vu Huy Hoang last week told the National Assembly's Q&A session that the MoIT and local authorities since late 2009 had rejected 117 substandard hydropower projects.
"All projects having heavy impacts on the environment and people's life will be removed. The inspection of many other projects, which are either operational or under construction and planning, will be continued in 2013. Some 156 projects will not be planned for hydropower development," Hoang said.
For example, the plan to construct the 135MW, VND4.41 trillion ($212 million) Dong Nai 6 and the 106MW VND3.44 trillion ($165.6 million) Dong Nai 6A the 135 megawatt in Lam Dong, Dak Nong and Binh Phuoc provinces "may be stopped if these projects' social and environmental impacts are too heavy," he said.
The locally-owned Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange-listed Duc Long Gia Lai Group Joint Stock Company, which is the projects' investor, recently submitted these projects' environmental impact reports to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. However, the reports have yet to be appraised. Previously such reports were slapped down twice due to environmental requirement shortcomings.
Many National Assembly delegates and constituents from Haiphong and Danang cities, and Nghe An, Quang Nam, Dong Nai, Long An, Binh Dinh provinces and Ho Chi Minh City have asked the government to re-consider the development of hydropower projects. Their concerns were focused on fears of disasters like landslides, environmental pollution and poverty.
For instance, leaks in the Song Tranh 2 Hydropower Plant in Quang Nam have caused great concerns over the plant's safety, while there has been a big breach in the province's Dakrong 3 Power Plant. Local media said many of the 43 hydropower plant projects in the province were fully operational, but none of the project investors had made preparations to cope with a possible dam breach, in case it occurs in future.
Four National Assembly delegations from Danang, Quang Nam, Dong Nai and Son La province have asked the top legislative body to list "hydropower projects" in its "supreme supervision programme for 2013," in which four plants including Hoa Binh, Son La, Song Tranh and Dong Nai would be supervised strictest due to their possible risks to the environment and people's life. Moreover, the production of 1MW of electricity from hydropower projects necessitated the destruction of 10ha of forests, which was considered a too expensive price.
The MoIT reported that Vietnam had planned to build 1,097 hydropower projects including 107 medium- and big-sized ones and 990 small-scaled ones. The total number of hydropower operational plants was 195 with total capacity of 11,965MW contributing to 36 per cent of Vietnam's total power produced annually. This rate would be reduced to 20 per cent in the 2020-2030 period due to the development of coal-fired, nuclear and other non-hydropower plants.
The National Assembly's Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung said the inspection of all Vietnam's hydropower projects would be completed by late 2013, and it would continued to be reported to the National Assembly in 2013's May and November.