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Hydro-plant threat to forests

Update: December, 13/2012 - 10:19

 

The Serepok 3 hydroelectricity power plant, one of eight plants built on the Serepok River in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Ha
HCM CITY (VNS)— The Yok Don National Park in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak is under threat from the Drang Phok hydro-electric power plant to be built on the Serepok River.

There are another seven hydroelectricity power plants that have either been built or are being built on the Serepok River. They are Buon Tuor Sar, Buon Kuop, Hoa Phu, Dray H'ling, Serepok 3, Serepok 4 and Serepok 4A.

According to Dak Lak Province's Department of Industry and Trade, the Drang Phok plant is invested in by HCM City-based Tecco.

The 26MW Drang Phok plant would be built in the core area of the Yok Don National Park, which could affect the environment and forest protection.

To build the plant, nearly 53ha of special-use forest will be cut and another 10ha of forest will be cleared for temporary use. The latter will be replanted after construction is completed.

Tran Van Thanh, temporary director of the Yok Don National Park, said the plant's proposed location in the heart of the park would adversely affect forest management and long-term protection of the forest.

If construction is allowed, vehicles, equipment and mines used to break up rocks, will cause environmental pollution and high levels of noise that will drive animals away.

In addition, construction of the plant would interfere with the water flow of the Serepok River, blocking animal migration and reproduction, and changing the living environment of plants and animals.

More water in the plant's reservoir would attract forest thieves who could transport wood by waterways.

While the potential for negative consequences from the Drang Phok plant could occur in the near future, the Serepok 4A plant could affect the ecological system of the river's 20-km section and the whole region in the near future.

At the end of the Serepok River that runs through the Yok Don National Park, the 64MW Serepok 4A hydropower plant is already under construction.

Invested in by the Buon Don Hydropower Joint-Stock Company, the plant will block the water flow on the Serepok River to gather water released from the Serepok 4 hydroelectricity plant by a 9-km-long pipe system that will take water to the Drang Phok plant.

From there, another 4-km-long pipe system will be built to drain water from the plant to return to the Serepok River.

According to the Yok Don National Park's management board, the 9-km pipe system draining water from the Serepok 4 plant to the Serepok 4A plant will deplete water on a 20-km section of the Serepok River after the Serepok 4A plant opens.

This will prove advantageous for lumberjacks who will be able to wade across the riverbed to the Yok Don National Park and cut down trees, according to Thanh.

In addition, with low water levels on the river, the ecological system on the river and the Ban Don eco-tourism area will be seriously affected.

Currently, construction on water-drainage systems is being carried out in the Ea Wer, Ea Huar and Krong Na communes in Buon Don District.

Investors have convinced local residents that the pipe system will facilitate local agricultural production.

However, in the near future, when the main stream will be blocked, all of the water will flow to the Serepok 4A plant.

Previously, the park's management and the General Department of Forest had petitioned authorities to halt the construction of the plants, but the project was allowed to continue. — VNS

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