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Dam-displaced people backed by NA deputies

Update: October, 15/2013 - 08:47
Son La Hydropower Plant in northern Son La Province's Muong La District, with a total investment of VND 60 trillion (nearly US$ 2.85 billion), will supply on average 10.2 billion kWh per year to the national grid. — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam

HA NOI (VNS)— The National Assembly Standing Committee yesterday urged the Government to speed up the creation of special solutions for people whose lives are disrupted by hydro-power projects.

The recommendation was made at a working session into a Government report on hydro-power planning and development.

The report, presented by Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang, said that last year, there were 1,239 hydro-power plant projects approved across the country. They had a potential capacity to produce more than 26,000 MW.

Following a NA resolution last November calling for a review of hydro-power projects, the Prime Minister has so far approved the removal of 424 projects, decided not to consider the construction of another 172, halted 136 and continued to examine 158.

This means Viet Nam now has 815 hydro power projects, including 268 operating and 205 projects under construction and expected to become operational by 2017.

Hoang said that all the removed projects had little economic benefits, threatened the environment, affected other socio-economic development projects or failed to attract investors.

He added that hydro-power projects had led to large-scale movements of people from their land.

To build 57 hydro-power plants with a capacity of more than 50MW each, more than 44,550 people had to be moved from their houses.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, reports from 16 hydro-power projects reveal that each resettled household received an average 1.28ha of farm land, 1.18ha of forestry land and 539 sq.m of housing land.

It claimed that in general, resettlement areas had better infrastructure than in their old villages.

However, officials admit there have been difficulties in arranging compensation, resettlement and support for those affected. This was often caused by frequently changing policies.

They also revealed that increased compensation benefited people, but raised the cost for investors, affecting their investment efficiency and capital mobilisation.

Phan Xuan Dung, chairman of the NA Science, Technology and Environment Committee, said that the quality of planning, especially for small hydro-power plants was still limited.

"We need to clarify the responsibilities of parties involved in projects that had since been abandoned," he said.

Also at yesterday's meeting of the Standing Committee, the Minister of Transport, Dinh La Thang, proposed adjustments to the NA resolution 38/2004/QH11 over the construction of the HCM Highway.

The highway will be 3,183km long, run through 28 cities and provinces, from Pac Bo Cave in northern Cao Bang Province to Dat Mui in southernmost Ca Mau Province. Its length is 16km longer than that approved.

Thang said that more than VND24 trillion ($1.14 billion) was needed to complete the highway, mostly for completion of a two-lane route from Pac Bo to Dat Mui by 2015 and the expansion of National Highway 15 running through the Central Highlands region by 2015.

However, Phung Quoc Hien, chairman of the NA Financial and Budgetary Affairs Committee, said he was worried about funding because of the country's tight budget.

NA prepares for session

Lawmakers are expected to adopt draft amendments to the 1992 Constitution at the sixth session of the National Assembly, which will be held from October 21 to November 30.

They are also likely to adopt a revised Land Law and are expected to comment on the 2011-15 socio-economic development plan.

NA Standing Committee members yesterday discussed preparations for the session.

National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung stressed the importance of the year-end meeting.

The Standing Committee agreed to a proposal by the Ministry of Information and Communication to hold a display of maps and documents featuring historical evidence of Viet Nam's sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos in conjunction with the sixth session. — VNS

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