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Apr 03, 2008 / 15:18

Hydropower challenges environment

Hanoi Times – Many hydropower plans and strategies are made without looking at the ‘big picture’, and as a result these projects can have negative impacts o­n the environment. That’s the opinion of Nguyen Duc Hai, Chairman of Quang Nam provincial People’s Committee, as the Greater Mekong Sub-region Summit gets underway in Vientiane, Laos.

Hanoi Times – Many hydropower plans and strategies are made without looking at the ‘big picture’, and as a result these projects can have negative impacts o­n the environment. That’s the opinion of Nguyen Duc Hai, Chairman of Quang Nam provincial People’s Committee, as the Greater Mekong Sub-region Summit gets underway in Vientiane, Laos.

On March 29, Hai took a bold and visionary stance for sustainable dam development in the central province of Quang Nam o­n the threshold of the Greater Mekong Sub-region Summit.

“Many hydropower plans and strategies are made without looking at the ‘big picture’, and as a result these projects can have negative impacts o­n the environment. The recommendations from the hydropower assessment for the Vu Gia-Thu Bon river basin will help us achieve sustainable hydropower development goals in particular, and economic development goals in general,” said Hai.

Quang Nam province’s new direction is exceptional, as most plans for dams rarely take environmental aspects into consideration. With 82 existing large hydropower dams in the Greater Mekong Sub-region and 179 more at different stages of planning, Hai’s comments reflect the pressing challenges that regional leaders face in balancing economic development, people’s livelihoods and safeguarding the region’s prized natural resources and the environment.

Quang Nam province is an area of rich biodiversity that boasts species such as the critically endangered saola. The Director of the Quang Nam Department of Natural Resources and the Environment affirmed that conservation is a key component of regional growth.

“The People’s Committee of Quang Nam province fully supports the issue of biodiversity conservation and the recommendation to maintain some rivers intact from headwater to sea. This will help develop nature tourism and promote economic growth in the long term,” he said.

Developers have a key role in shaping responsible hydropower projects in Quang Nam. “It is our responsibility to conform to the recommendations of hydropower assessment now that it is endorsed by the provincial government. In principle, we will always take the provincial government’s regulations and policies into serious consideration,” says Truong Thiet Hung, Director of Song Bung 4 Hydropower Project Management Board.

“By inviting WWF and partners to help implement the recommendations of the hydropower environmental assessment, the Chairman of Quang Nam is demonstrating to the countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region that sustainable growth builds o­n environmental considerations,” said Tran Minh Hien, Director of WWF Vietnam.