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Hydro-plants leave Phu Yen residents without resources

Update: August, 14/2014 - 08:43
Ba Ha River hydro-electricity plants. — File Photo

PHU YEN (VNS) — Construction works on the Ba Ha River and Hinh River hydro-electricity plants have changed the Ba River's flow and had negative impacts on the lives of local residents, local authorities have said.

Pham Dinh Phung, deputy chairman of the Son Hoa District People's Committee, said that the district had lost more than 1,500ha of cultivated land to make way for the Ba Ha River Hydroelectricity Plant. Meanwhile, the Song Hinh District had lost more than 1,600ha of land to the Hinh River Hydroelectricity Plant.

Nearly 300 households in the districts had to be resettled to accommodate the two plants.

Reports from the Son Hoa and Song Hinh districts people's committees in the central province of Phu Yen showed that the plants had discharged water during the rainy season, submerging nearby crops. In sunny season, plants reserved water, causing residents in the lowlands lacking water to irrigate their fields.

Meanwhile, land surrounding the resettlements was not suitable for cultivating crops, said Phung.

While the plants are currently operational, construction efforts to build irrigation channels for resettled residents was lagging behind schedule, said officials.

While the pumping station in Son Hoa District's Krong Pa Commune was expected to be used across 300ha of rice and farm land, current levels suggest there is only enough water for 43ha. Similarly, another pumping station in Suoi Trai Commune designed to water more than 100ha of rice, would only be able to service around 30ha.

In Song Hinh District, resettlement quarters in Bau and Hoc villages were also in need of small irrigational channels to support agricultural production. Even more seriously, local residents are desperate for clean water to prepare their food and to drink.

A majority of the wells in the resettlement quarters had deteriorated and were yet to be repaired despite multiple requests to district authorities, said Phung.

Local authorities have failed to deliver policies to provide vocational training and help residents transition into new jobs, exacerbating skills shortages and increasing the risk of poverty.

As many as 99.7 per cent of households in resettlement quarters in the province are surviving on low incomes.

Dang Thi Kim Chi, deputy head of the National Assembly delegation from Phu Yen Province, said that hydroelectric enterprises and local authorities needed to take their responsibilities to residents seriously, particularly in relation to ethnic minority groups.

Local authorities should have policies for job transitions, crop cultivation and animal husbandry so that residents can build stable incomes for themselves, she said.

Enterprises profiting from the hydroelectricity plants also needed to pay closer attention to the deteriorated water, road and irrigation infrastructure in resettlement quarters, she said.

Local authorities needed to support residents with arable land and adopt a "each office helps a poor commune, each state worker helps a poor household" approach approved by the provincial authorities to reduce household poverty rates, said Chi. — VNS

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