Central region wastes away because of hydropower plants

The central region and Central Highlands are home to about 200 hydropower plants which have caused negative impacts on the environment and the community, said delegates at a forum hosted by the Vietnam Rivers Network (VRN) in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue on October 28.

Bo River is depleted becuase Huong Dien Hydropower Plant accumulates water in Thua Thien Hue Province (Photo: SGGP)

According to a survey of Ms. Pham Thi Dieu My, member of VRN, most hydropower projects in the central region and the Central Highlands have not grown new forests to make up chopped down areas as per a Government’s Decree on implementation of Forest Protection and Development Law.

There is an overlap in responsibilities of local authorities and hydropower investors in arranging land for afforestation, choosing tree varieties, protecting and caring for replanted areas.

Over 1,000 forest hectares had been chopped down for construction works of Song Hinh, Ba Ha and Krong Nang Hydropower Plants in the central province of Phu Yen Province. So far, only Ba Ha has grown one tenth of the total 200 hectares to compensate for the cleared forest. The rest two have not begun to do so.

Dr. Le Anh Tuan from the Climate Change Research Institute under Can Tho University said that hydropower projects in the two regions above have supplied electricity for the country and some Southeast Asian nations. However they have caused a lot of environmental and social consequences for the last five years.

Unusually fierce floods have occurred in the lowlands causing human and property losses, river landslide and damaging traffic works. Two worst cases were created by A Vuong Hydropower Plant in Quang Nam Province in September 2009 and Ba Ha Plant in Phu Yen Province in October last year.

Hydropower plants have also triggered severe drought together with severe water shortage and salt intrusion in the lowlands.

Since 2012, Dak My 4 Hydropower Plant has worsened environmental pollution while water accumulation at Song Tranh 2 Plant has resulted in a lot of quakes worrying local people in Quang Nam Province.

A study of VRN showed that people have been resettled in unfertile areas for construction sites of hydropower plants, affecting food supply to the community. Besides, they have faced with unemployment, low-income and poverty. For instance, Song Tranh 2 Hydropower Plant prompted evacuation and resettlement of 1,046 households. They have not received sufficient compensation at all and been forced to illegally log, hunt for animals or burn down forest for production land.  

Mr. Tran Ba Quoc from the Social Research and Development Center said that right after coming into operation in 2009, Binh Dien Hydropower Plant has negatively impacted the environment. Fish output on Huong River in 2011 and 2012 dropped 50-70 percent compared to before 2009. The number of fish species with high economic value reduced also over 90 percent.
The plant’s operation has put an end to fish farming on the Huong River after killing fish raised in cages there.

In addition, water pollution on the Huong River has far exceeded permissible levels, forcing HueWaco Company to buy more equipment and change treatment measures to ensure water quality.

On the other hand, Binh Dien Hydropower Plant has not fully implemented measures to minimize environment impacts as per their initial pledge.

By Van Thang – Translated by Hai Mien

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