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Locals protest hydropower plants

Update: October, 20/2014 - 08:39
The ongoing construction site of Nuoc Trong Reservoir, the biggest irrigation and hydroelectricity project in central Quang Ngai Province. The upcoming construction of new hydroelectricity plants threatens the lives of residents in the province's Son Ha district. — VNA/VNS Photo Dang Lam

QUANG NGAI (VNS) — Upcoming construction of new hydroelectricity plants threatens residents of the central province of Quang Ngai's Son Ha district.

The district's residents have protested Quang Ngai province's decision to construct three new hydroelectricity plants, Son Tra 1, Dakdrinh 2 and Tra Khuc 1, said Phung To Long, the chief of office of the Son Ha People's Committee.

The province has already built 18 hydroelectricity plants. Over the past four years, two floods caused by the plants resulted in heavy damage in the communes, said Dang Ngoc Dung, the district Party Committee's secretary.

To build the plants, contractors need to cut down trees. With less trees and soil up in the mountains, the communes have less protection from rain water flooding down the mountains and into their lower residential areas.

The Director of Quang Ngai's Trade and Industry Department, Nguyen Xuan Thuy, said the construction plans for the three new plants were still being drafted, and the province's People's Committee needed to evaluate the plans in terms of progress, environmental-social impacts and economic efficiency before approving them.

Di Lang town resident Dinh Van Cang said the last flood, in November, was the biggest yet. The water nearly reached his roof.

When finished, the three new plants would cause flooding in all four of the district's communes, affecting the lives of 20,000 people and destroying 18,000 hectares of forest, Dung said.

"We shouldn't trade the people's security for new hydro-power plants," he said.

Nguyen Thai, deputy secretary of the district Party Committee, said the plants' investors and contractors were only concerned with making a profit.

The investors would have to take full responsibility for any damage caused following the construction of the power plants, including floods and droughts, Thai said.

They would build the plants in forests that have existed for hundreds of years, according to the director of the management unit for Thach Nham's Riverhead Protective Forest, Doan Ngoc Thach. It would destroy the local ecosystem and a huge number of trees, Thach said. It would also help illegal loggers enter and damage the forest. — VNS

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