Viet Nam News
ĐIỆN BIÊN – Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has ordered officials to guarantee an improved standard of living for those people relocated due to construction of the Sơn La hydropower plant.
He noted that operation of the hydropower plant will spur socio-economic development in the northwestern region.
Speaking at a conference in the northern mountainous province of Điện Biên on Saturday, the Prime Minister said the resettlement work has been carried out over the past 15 years and needs to ensure that those in relocated households have improved spiritual, material, and cultural lives.
The foreseeable task is to assure good employment and education for children in families being relocated, he said.
He also requested the State Steering Committee for Sơn La Hydropower Project to pay more attention to creating social infrastructure projects, developing rural areas, and supporting the operation of agricultural cooperatives, as well as industrial and farming centres.
The Prime Minister also urged localities to build political and administrative systems in the resettled areas, strengthen solidarity and mutual assistance among residents in the community, and implement the State’s policy on eliminating poverty.
He further asked ministries and localities to remove any difficulties during the resettlement process and quicken the implementation of 35 projects to develop agricultural production and improve living conditions for those who are relocated.
Sơn La hydropower plant is one of the key national projects to supply electricity for the socio-economic development, industrialisation and modernisation. It will also play a significant role in preventing floods during the rainy season and providing water in the dry season for local residents in the country’s northwest region.
To prepare for the building of the plant, as many as 20,340 households, with 93,201 people in Sơn La, Điện Biên and Lai Châu provinces need to be relocated.
The relocation and resettlement of those people has been largely completed during the past 15 years. As a result, the plant is expected to be put into operation three years earlier than scheduled.
According to the committee, the per capita income of relocated people increased to over VNĐ1.2 million (US$54) in 2015, from VNĐ311,000 ($13.9) in 2005. Meanwhile, the rate of poor households fell to 17.11 per cent in 2015, from 47.73 per cent in 2005.
Local staff must improve
Working with provincial leaders later that same day, Prime Minister Phúc stressed that local authorities play a decisive role in the province’s success or failure, thus, they must renew their thinking and spirit to serve, and desire to expand development.
Though Điện Biên has attempted to overcome difficulties to maintain its stability and growth, which has been proven through setting a record in collecting its provincial budget of VNĐ1 trillion ($45 million), the size of the provincial economy remains small and the percentage of poor households is still high.
“Thus, it is necessary to empower local residents to reduce poverty,” the PM said.
“First and foremost, local people should be allocated with forest land so they have responsibility for managing and protecting forests, which is a huge advantage in the province.”
In the long term, the PM noted that it is crucial to improve the knowledge and education of local people.
“Models of boarding homes and boarding schools, and facilitating policies for specially impoverished communes are the basis for reducing poverty. How can we reduce poverty if we do not care for the children? Even farmers need to be educated to raise productivity,” said PM Phúc.
He noted that there should be clear planning for scientific operations to take full advantage of forest and forest lands, as well as vast areas of natural land and climate to provide breakthrough solutions for agricultural development. The total agro-forestry land accounts for 79.31 per cent of the area.
Additionally, the province should seek breakthroughs in tourism development, as it avails itself of potentials in ecological tourism, as well as in its cultural and historical values and geography.
Further, Deputy PM Trịnh Đình Dũng requested Điện Biên to scientifically and thoroughly study overall solutions for the area’s development strategy, which should involve specialists, scientists and experienced consultative bodies, both at home and abroad.
He also suggested that tourism will be an important and promising economic sector for the province. Therefore, Điện Biên needs to invest in infrastructure, particularly upgrading the local airport, hotels and accommodation facilities.
During the meeting, PM Phúc noted that the province needs to ensure security, political security and social order, as well as to develop its border gate economy, promote its markets and fight smuggling and trade fraud. — VNS