Hydropower projects under ministry microscope
Duc Long-Gia Lai vows to pursue controversial hydropower project
By Van Nam - The Saigon Times Daily
HCMC – The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment this year will launch investigations into hydropower projects in nine provinces in Central Vietnam and the Central Highlands.
“It is necessary to address the issues of land use, environmental impact and water resource management at hydropower plants as both central and local agencies have easily granted approval to those projects in recent times,” said Mai Thanh Dung, head of Environment Impact Evaluation and Assessment Department.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade and local governments, he said, have given the green light to a number of hydroelectric projects without seeking a consensus with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
If the ministry detects any violations of land use, forest reservation or water resource management, it will impose strict fines. If the ministry discovers that existing hydropower plants are adversely affecting water sources in downstream areas, it will request investors to regulate water discharge, Dung said.
Since provincial authorities have approved a number of small-sized hydropower projects in recent years, the ministry said it is hard to count precisely the number of such projects across the country.
* Duc Long Gia Lai Group has invited the Institute for Environment and Resources (IER) to reassess the impact of two hydropower projects - Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A - on the environment, said Pham Hung, managing director of the company.
The group has shown its determination to pursue this project after controversies last year over the great impact on the Cat Tien nature reserves.
Leading experts of the institute are conducting a field survey in a bid to reassess the environment impact of the two power plants. The survey result will be presented to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment by the year-end.
Last year, the media and scientists repeatedly sounded a note of warning about the adverse impact on the environment and forest area of Cat Tien National Park which would be caused by the two hydroelectric projects.
According to the last environment impact assessment, the country will lose 372 hectares of forest land, including 137 hectares in Cat Tien National Park if Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A are built.
Costing VND5.7 trillion and with a combined capacity of 241MW, the two plants were invested by Duc Long Gia Lai Group in 2007.