River of concern against hydropower projects

June 18, 2012 | 14:05
Substandard hydropower plant projects will continue facing Days of Judgment.
illustration photo

Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang last week told the National Assembly that local authorities  had rejected 52 substandard hydroelectricity projects since the beginning of this year.
“The inspection of many other projects, which are either operational or under construction and planning, will be continued,” Hoang said.

For example, the plan to build the 135 megawatt/ $178 million Dong Nai 6 and the 106MW/ $142.5 million Dong Nai 6A hydropower plants in southern Dong Nai province might be stopped if their environmental impact reports failed to meet local authorities’ requirements, Hoang said.
Locally-owned Duc Long Gia Lai Group, the projects’ investor, submitted twice reports to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE).

However, they were slapped down due to environmental protection requirement shortcomings. The firm will submit the reports to the MoNRE for a third time next quarter.

“Dong Nai 6 and 6A must not be built as it will take 137 hectares of Cat Tien National Park and another 144ha of Southern Cat Tien protection forest,” said Dong Nai’s deputy Truong Van Vo.
Many National Assembly deputies vehemently opposed construction of more hydropower plants in Vietnam. Their concerns centered on fears of disasters like landslides, environmental pollution and poverty.

Also the production of 1MW of hydroelectricity resulted in the destruction of 10ha of forests, which was considered a too expensive price.

For example, central Quang Nam province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment reported that the province’s 43 hydroelectricity projects had been encroaching on 10,000ha of forests. Specifically, the Song Tranh 2 (190MW) and 3 (62 MW under-construction) hydropower plants had used 2,600ha of forest, while the 210MW A Vuong plant had used 1,000ha of forest.

“In central Binh Dinh province, there are even some hydropower projects with each having capacity of 4MW, but a plant has eaten 70ha of forests and driven farmers who used to live on such forests into difficulties,” said Binh Dinh’s deputy Nguyen Thanh Thuy.

“In another case, 40 kilometres of Con River in Binh Dinh province has 11 hydropower plants. Many forests have disappeared.”

National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung said hydropower project inspections would help revise localities’ planning of these projects. “Any violations will face tough punishments,” Hung said. Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said the government would continue inspecting all hydropower projects nationwide.

Under the government’s hydropower planning, there will be 1,097 hydroelectricity projects with total capacity of 24,000MW. At present, 195 projects are now operational with total capacity of 12,000MW, or 36 per cent of Vietnam’s total electricity output. Some 245 projects with total capacity of 7,000MW are under construction.

By Thanh Thu


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