Hanoi, Vietnam, May 23, 2016
Vietnam’s Ministry of Investment and Planning (MPI) received a request to approve the investment project of Xuan Thanh group (Xuan Thien Co Ltd) which aims to construct a waterway transport system and hydropower dam on Red River, in North Vietnam. MPI has informed the Prime Minister and consulted with MONRE about this project as MPI thinks this project will have potential impacts to the environment due to dredging the riverbed or in the process of constructing the dam. But in order to understanding the specific impacts, it needs to conduct and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
The Prime Minister has not yet approved this project as its still lack information and legal documents. Prime Minster assigned MONRE to establish a master plan for Red River to ensure the sustainable development.
As the investor. Xuan Thien Co Ltd. has experience on hydropower construction. This company says that around the world. waterway transportation is very effective with high economic value and many countries have advanced this way. Vietnam should follow to exploit the waterway transportation system. This company also has research to find the technical solutions to minimize the impacts to the environment, sediment loss and uncontrolled mineral exploitation. Regarding border security issues, this investor confirmed that this waterway transportation system will not lead to a trade opening with China, as it will still need pass via the road through the Lao Cai border gate.
The investor said that when the project is completed, people and businesses of northern Vietnam will benefit from reduced transport costs, as a driving force of economic development. They also confirmed that the main objective of this project is navigation, hydropower is only a secondary advantage, and will have an output of about 0.91 billion kwh a year. The financial capacity also needs to be considered. This investor hopes that if the project matches with the government master plan, then they will continue developing this project.
There are many public comments about this project. Most of people think that this waterway transportation system on Red River is not yet necessary and it will impact the natural resources and environment, especially the sedimentation of Red River. Even if the investor spends billions of dollars on this project, they will not support it. They will support only if the project helps to construct a rock embankment to protect the river banks from erosion. Some Hanoi residents think that hydropower construction will affect the habitat of the aquatic flora and fauna. Living conditions of underwater flora and fauna, as well as along the river will face serious changes. However, if this project brings economic benefit to the country, ensuring improved irrigation water and living for the people of the Red River will be good.
It is important to consider carefully the upstream water sources flowing from China to the Red River and what will happen to the Red River if China also constructs dams similar to the Mekong river. Therefore, there needs to be advice from environmental experts and international experts to help us make the correct decision. It should not get approval or objection quickly without sufficient information.
Image: Lon&Queta: Women hoeing rice paddies; Hoa Lu, Red River Delta, Vietnam