HCM CITY — Experts and authorities in southern provinces have voiced support for a proposal by HCM City to suspend construction of hydropower plants on Dong Nai River pending a study into their environmental and other impacts.
Last week, city authorities had written to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung requesting suspension of work on 20 projects along the river.
Construction of more than 20 plants in the upper section of Dong Nai River without a comprehensive study into their impacts could seriously affect the environment in the lower sections, Nguyen Van Lai, director of the city Department of Industry and Trade, said.
Concurring, deputy chairman of the Dong Nai Province People's Committee, Ao Van Thinh, pointed out reservoirs in the upper section have already caused an increase in saltwater intrusion into the river.
The problem has been encountered in the lower section by Binh Duong, Dong Nai, and Ba Ria-Vung Tau Provinces and HCM City.
The Phuoc Hoa Dam, if built on the upper section of Be River, a branch of the Dong Nai, would dry up the lower section, he warned.
"We are not afraid of floods but are threatened by droughts in the lower section of the Dong Nai.
"We must carry out a comprehensive study into the impact hydropower projects will have on the river's flow before a decision [to build it] is made."
Bui Van Mua, head of the Dak Nong Province Party Committee's Propaganda and Training Department, said assessments should be done by experts before hydropower dams are built in the upper reaches of the river.
Pham Anh Duc, a lecturer at HCM City's Ton Duc Thang University who carried out a study, said the saltwater intrusion into the Dong Nai proved that the hydropower plants along the river have not played their role as a regulator of water flow.
The power plants' reservoirs also hinder migration of fish and shrimp from the sea and estuaries into the upper section of the Dong Nai, causing endemic species to disappear in recent years.
According to the city Department of Industry and Trade, nine hydropower plants have been built or are under construction along Dong Nai River that runs across 12 central and southern provinces.
There are six others on Be River and five on the La Nga, two branches of Dong Nai River. —VNS