Cat Tien Power Projects Still Courting Controversy

Thanh Thu | vir.com.vn | Nov 06, 2012 09:07 am

Two controversial planned hydroelectricity projects in Cat Tien National Park have been unmasked as violating Vietnam’s legal regulations.

Vietnam River Network (VRN) just sent a petition to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment asking it not to approve the updated environmental impact reports for Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A hydroelectricity projects because these reports still failed to obey Vietnam’s legal regulations and meet environmental safety standards.

The projects were approved by the prime minister as part of the nation’s central power development plan.

The 135 megawatt, $178 million Dong Nai 6 and the 106MW $142.5 million Dong Nai 6A were to be invested and built by locally-owned Duc Long Gia Lai Group in Cat Tien National Park, which was granted the title of world’s Biosphere Reserve in 2001 and covers Dong Nai, Lam Dong and Binh Phuoc provinces.

VRN said the projects’ environmental impact reports falsely say they would be built on the back of the National Assembly’s approval.

Under the Clause 3 of the National Assembly’s Resolution 49/2010/QH12 dated June 19, 2010, the transformation of any 50 hectares of national or special forests into other non-forest purposes must be approved by the National Assembly.

Moreover, the projects also violate the Law on Biological Diversity issued in 2008, under which only national security projects can be built in parks as such Cat Tien.

“So, these projects violate this law,” said VRN coordinator Lam Thi Thu Suu.

To ram the point home, VRN said the projects would permanently inundate 356ha of the park and seriously affect the lives of hundreds of plant and animal species, many of which are listed in the world’s Red List as threatened species.

VRN asked authorities to force the projects’ investor to make clear the electricity with high voltage environmental impacts, which could badly affect those living near the projects.

VRN has protested against the two plants since their flawed environmental impact reports twice tabled in 2011 and early 2012.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade issued Document 5117/QD-BCT dated October 14, 2009 on approving these two projects. On July 21, 2011, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung issued Decision 1208/QD-TTg approving the Seventh Power Master Planning during 2011-2020, with a vision to 2030, in which the Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A projects would become operational by 2015 and 2016, respectively.

These projects would churn out 929.16 million kWh, equal to the current power consumption by Lam Dong, Dak Nong and Binh Phuoc provinces, and helping to reduce 571,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

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