Central residents discuss lack of compensation for land grabs

Update: October, 29/2015 - 08:00

A photo shows a corner of the Buon Kuop Hydro-power Plant in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Ha

by Phuoc Buu

THUA THIEN - HUE (VNS) — Residents in the central region who gave up their land to make way for hydropower plants more than a decade ago met on Tuesday to discuss the delay in compensation and the dam's impacts on their daily lives.

Representing communities in Dak Lak, Quang Nam and Thua Thien-Hue, the residents said at an open forum in Hue City that investors did not uphold their agreement on compensation and delayed the disbursement. They also said the dams harmed their lives.

Ho Van Thuong, head of Bo Hon village in Thua Thien-Hue, said all 46 households in his community had given up land for the Binh Dien power plant, a decision that has led to negative consequences.

"We have asked for compensation for our farm land for 10 years now, but no progress has been made," he said, adding that the new resettlement area provided only enough land for housing.

"Many children could not attend schools and got involved in bad crowds because their parents lost their livelihoods," he said.

Le Van Trong from Eana commune in Dak Lak, where residents gave land to Buon Kuop power plant in 2003, said the compensation rate was lower than what had been promised by the investor. Payments were also delayed.

"They promised three times the value of what the actual land was worth to persuade us to give up land," he said. "In reality, the compensation we received for 1ha of land could purchase 0.3ha of cultivation land in another area, so we have no land to farm."

Payments were disbursed three times over three years, which hindered locals from affording the resources for agricultural production, Trong added.

The commune's deputy chairman Y Pil Eban said the dam hinders the water from flowing freely, which has led to the issue of rubbish piling up in the reservoir. The pollution has affected the environment and nearby residents.

Pham Hat of Dai Loc commune in Quang Nam, which is affected by power dams in the Vu Gia-Thu Bon basin, said the unannounced release of a large amount of water from the Song Tranh and A Vuong power plants caused sudden floods that destroyed residents' crops and properties.

Power plant authorities at the forum admitted that they are aware of their responsibility and are trying their best to manage the situation. They promised to implement a proper mechanism for water discharge.

Dao Trong Hung, an advisor of the Viet Nam River Network - one of the forum's organisers along with the Hue-based Centre for Social Reseach and Development and a local unit of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front Committee - urged investors to take a closer look at the hard times they have experienced as a result of giving up their land.

Local units of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front Committee in Thua Thien-Hue and Dak Lak pledged to address the issues in their action plan next year, and Le Ba Trinh, deputy chairman of the national committee, promised to submit a detailed report to the Government.

"The responsibility of those involved in the development of power plants in compensating local residents must be clarified because development in general aims to bring a better life to each of the residents, not to harm them," he said.

Lam Thi Thu Suu, director of the Centre for Social Research and Development, told Viet Nam News that the second forum on these issues has attracted more attention. She said recommendations raised by the first forum in October last year have gone unnoticed by relevant agencies and investors.

"Residents in the affected areas have been waiting too long to get their reasonable benefits, thus it is the right time for dealing with the problems," Suu said. — VNS