Hydro-Power Plant To Be Built In National Park

By VNS, August 26th, 2013

A small hydro-power plant project is going through the final procedures before being built in the Chu Yang Sin National Park in Dak Lak Province.

The project preparations have been progressing despite a call by the Central Highlands Steering Committee to stop all new hydro-power projects in the region.

In 2005, the investor of the Ea K’tour Hydro-power Project, in Cu Pui Commune, Krong Bong District, received approval from the provincial People’s Committee to develop the project on an area of 70ha in the park, said Tong Ngoc Chung, director of the national park.

Afterwards, authorities inspected the area and decided to suspend the project, but last year the provincial People’s Committee allowed work on the project to begin on an area of just 6ha.

On August 1 this year, the provincial Department of Industry and Trade proposed that the local government reduce the capacity of the future plant from the initial 7.5MW to 5MW.

Chung warned that if a hydro-power plant is built, the park will not only lose about 6ha of forest which needs to be protected, but will also see the loss of habitats for many rare and precious endemic species that are listed in both the domestic and global Red Book.

“The plant would disrupt the stream’s flow, drying up a 3-km section, thereby causing the mass death of trees along its route. Many species of fish, reptiles, andamphibians will face extinction,” he said.

The national park has sent an urgent letter to the provincial People’s Committee to consider halting the Ea K’Tour hydro-electric plant project.

However, the project’s investor Hoang Dinh Tuan, director of the Hoang Nguyen Co Ltd in Buon Ma Thuot City, insisted that the project will bring benefits to the park.

Tuan told the Tuoi tre (Youth) newspaper that the company has reduced the area of the project from 70ha to only 6ha, which was tiny compared to the overall area of the park.

Among the small hydro-electric projects in the province, this project will have the least impact on the environment, he said.

“The park covers hundreds of thousands of hectares, while the project occupies only 6ha of it. Construction of the plant will be completed in a year and will have no impact on the fauna and flora of the park,”Tuan said.

He affirmed that many provincial agencies have studied the issue, and they have decided to let the company carry out an environmental impact assessment report for the project.

“The project helps prevent deforestation in the park, and when the plant begins generating power, it will pay taxes to the authorities and forest fees to the park. Therefore, the park will suffer no losses, and will benefit from the project,” he said.

Huynh Bai, chairman of the Krong Bong District People’s Committee, said that the amount of taxes to be paid by the future plant are estimated at VND2-3 billion (US$95,200-142,800) per year.

This is a large sum compared to the budget of the mountainous district, but it is small compared to the damage it will bring to the environment and local life.

“The loss in terms of the ecological environment is huge, and largely unforeseeable,” Bai said, adding that the committee has repeatedly issued documents objecting to the project and demanding that it be suspended to protect the biological diversity of the park and the Dak Tour Cave.

A small hydro-power project like this, which is expected to make a small contribution to the national budget and national power grid while causing great loss and damage for the environment should not be built, he said.

Commenting on the project, associate professor Bao Huy, from Tay Nguyen University told the Tuoi tre (Youth) newspaper that the construction of the plant will change the hydrological systems of both the stream and the Chu Yang Sin mountain, leading to adverse changes to the habitats of many species of plants and animals in the park and thereby damaging the biological diversity of the area.

Besides the Ea K’tour plant, the Chu Yang Sin national park also accommodates three other small hydro-power plants, one 11MW which is already operating, a 0.2MW which is under construction and another which is still in the site clearance process.

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