|The Binh Dien hydropower plant in Thua Thien-Hue province. Many residents are struggling to make ends meet after giving up land for new power plants in the central region. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Ha.
THUA THIEN - HUE (VNS) — After resettling to make way for new hydropower plants and their reservoirs throughout the central region, many households find that life has yet to return to normal.
Residents in Dai Hong Commune of Quang Nam Province said they lost their livelihood due to the A Vuong and Dak Mi 4 power plants of the Vu Gia - Thu Bon river system.
"Four villages of the commune had to relocate and almost 20 ha of farmland and gardening plots have been lost since 2010," said Nguyen Khanh Tam Anh, a resident of the commune. He blames the power plants for changing the river's natural flow and causing severe bank erosion.
Resident Pham Hat said he and 111 other boat owners used to earn a living running a boat service that taxied across the river. Now he is unemployed because of the receding water level.
"I used to earn VND900,000 (US$45) a day with the boat service, but now my income is zero," he said.
Le Thanh Viet, chairman of Phu Hoa Commune, said the power plant has impinged on residents' cropland, reducing them to poverty.
"We also must endure poor living conditions, like no water supply. People must walk 300m to collect water for their daily use," he said.
In Thua Thien Hue Province, residents of Binh Thanh Commune are in the same situation. The commune's Bo Hon Village had to move to another place because of the Binh Dien power plant.
"There's no more land for cultivation. Youths leave their families in search of new jobs, and many of them are sucked into a life of crime. Meanwhile family elders sit at home, hungry," said Nguyen Van Thuong, head of the Bo Hon Village.
Speaking at a people's forum held in Hue on Tuesday, an advisor of the Viet Nam River Network, Dang Ngoc Quang said the government should consider increasing the price of power.
"Because of cheap rates, people don't care much about power conservation," he said, pointing out that more power consumption leads to more power plants.
"Cheap power also means low compensation for people forced to relocate," he added.
Dr. Le Anh Tuan, an associate professor at Can Tho University, said policy makers should brainstorm ways to reduce power waste rather than build more power plants. — VNS