Nov 05, 2020 / 08:26

Vietnam lawmakers urge tightened control over small hydropower planning

The Hanoitimes - Lawmakers largely attributed severe floods in the central region recently to poor planning of small-scale hydropower plants.

Vietnam’s lawmakers have urged the government to thoroughly review hydropower planning nationwide for sustainable management following severe flooding and fatal landslides in the central region late last month that are largely believed to stem from poor planning of small-scale hydropower stations.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade needs to make all-encompassing assessment of the investment of small- and medium-size hydroelectric plants in the north, the central region, and Central Highlands, lawmakers said at the National Assembly (NA)’s ongoing month-long plenum.

They demanded the removal of ineffective projects out of the National Power Plan by 2030.

Voices from lawmakers

Lawmaker Nguyen Thi Xuan. Photo: Quochoi 

Lawmaker Nguyen Thi Xuan from Dak Lak province pointed out some consequences resulted from the development of these projects, including drought and flooding when the dams store and discharge water, legalized exploitation of timber under the guise of hydropower, transfer of hydroelectric projects to other investors after exploiting mineral resources.

She said the parliament needs to establish task forces to supervise the afforestation while the government has to increase funding the afforestation and add it to the socio-economic development of the mountainous areas and ethnic minorities in 2021-2030.

Lawmaker Phan Thai Binh from Quang Nam province demanded environmental impact assessment (EIA) by the government to ensure the safety of both hydroelectric dams and irrigation dams.

 Lawmaker Hoang Duc Thang. Photo: Quochoi

Lawmaker Hoang Duc Thang from Quang Tri province attributed severe floods in the central region largely to the development of hydropower. He said hydropower-related deforestation has caused bare land, soil erosion, flash flood, landslide, and severe disaster.

The disappearance of natural and primeval forests has weakened soil water retention capacity, causing floods, Mr. Thang emphasized.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Leo Thi Lich from Bac Giang province talked about the safety of both hydroelectric and irrigation dams and the need of systematic operations among them.

Lawmaker Tran Thi Dung blamed the government for having no specific policies to remove ineffective projects that cause the disappearance of forests and disrupt the livelihood.

Lawmaker Vu Thi Luu Mai attributed tragic natural disasters to anthropogenic impact on the environment that includes changes to biophysical environments and ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural resources.

Well-known lawmaker Duong Trung Quoc pointed out the lack of long-term impact that small-scale hydro might cause for next generations in decades.

Pledge from government agencies

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh. Photo: Quochoi

Speaking at the NA’s discussion session on Wednesday [November 4], Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said the ministry will closely work with localities to tighten control over existing hydroelectric dams and the development of the new ones.

He affirmed that the ministry has added to the national power plan no hydropower projects whose development implies the deforestation of natural forests while removing from the plan 480 hydroelectricity projects and 213 potential locations planned for this kind of projects.

At the parliament, Mr. Anh also highlighted the important role of hydropower in the country’s development, saying that hydropower capacity of 20,000 megawatt (MW) from 429 dams accounts for 37% of the country’s total power capacity.