Posted inStory / Vietnam

Central Highlands shun hydropower plants


Central Highlands provinces have scrapped plans for many hydropower plants and stopped the operations of others because of their adverse effects on forests and the environment.

The region has seen serious loss of forest cover in recent years, according to the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development (MARD).

This along with climate change has seriously affected local people’s lives and the environment and hit socio-economic development.

The construction of hydropower dams interferes with the water flow in rivers, affecting the eco-system.

Đắk Lắk Province stopped the operation of 13 of its 22 hydroelectric plants and scrapped 71 out of 79 planned hydropower projects, deputy chairman of its People’s Committee, Y Giang Gry Niê Knơng said.

Most of them are situated in natural forests.

Nguyễn Ngọc Thông, head of the local Industrial Safety Techniques and Environment Agency, said: “Đắk Lắk has scrapped plans for hydropower projects that affect forests and people’s lives”.

Last year the province called off the planned Đrăng Pốk hydropower project in the Yok Đôn National Park, which would have destroyed dozens of hectares of forests, hamper forest protection and conservation of bio-diversity.

Gia Lai Province has pulled the plug on 17 of 74 planned small and medium-sized hydropower projects, and stopped the operation of two small-sized hydroelectric plants of Kanak and Ia Kha.

This month the province People’s Committee submitted a report to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and other relevant agencies on its hydropower projects.

Bùi Khắc Quang, director of the province Department of Industry and Trade, said: “Hydropower projects have both positive and negative impacts. The negative effects should be removed”.

The Ia Krêl 2 hydropower plant’s dam has been damaged twice during its construction.

H’Pinh, a resident of Đức Cơ District, said the resultant flood after a collapse last year swept away her house while her family was sleeping. She and her brothers climbed up a tree to save themselves and were later rescued by local border guards.

Her family lost a great deal of property, she said.

“I am very happy as Ia Krêl 2 hydropower plant has been shut down. I am no longer afraid of floodwaters suddenly hitting my house at night”, she said.

According to the province People’s Committee, many investors ask to build hydroelectric plants but are refused permission because of their threat to forestry lands.