HCM CITY — An institute in HCM City will conduct new environmental impact assessments of two proposed power plants 6 and 6A that would reclaim 154ha of forested land in Cat Tien National Park in southern Dong Nai Province.
The projects' investor has asked the Institute of Natural Resources and Environment under the National University in HCM City to conduct the assessment, after scientists recently discovered that the previous one had not been done properly.
Assoc Prof Dr Nguyen Van Phuoc, the institute's director, was quoted by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying his institute would offer recommendations to stop the projects if they find that the plants would cause environmental damage.
Experts have been concerned about the neutrality of such assessments because they are paid for by the investor.
"We are to conduct careful assessments based on scientific requirements of related agencies," Phuoc said, adding that the assessments could answer the questions raised by scientists on the impact of the projects.
The assessment will examine the distribution of water in the Dong Nai River basin, forestland reclamation, and the attitude of the local community toward the power plants.
The institute plans to investigate whether reclamation of the forestland (5 per cent of total area of the park) would violate the criteria required to be a national park.
Flora and fauna will be surveyed to measure the impact on species as well as individuals.
The assessment is also being done to ensure that fishermen on the river section where the power plants' reservoirs are located can continue to fish in the area.
Phuoc pledged that surveys would be conducted carefully to collect opinions of local residents and authorities.
The assessment would also evaluate the impact on the park's Crocodile Pond, which is one of the last remaining habitats for Indochina crocodiles in the world.
The pond is an important element in the park's quest to be recognised as a natural heritage and a world heritage site by UNESCO. — VNS