|The Ia Krel 2 hydropwer plant in Gia Lai has begun storing water without a license, nearly a year after a dam breach flooded a village, destroyed crops and inflicted huge losses.— Photo laodong
GIA LAI (VNS) — The Ia Krel 2 hydropwer plant in Gia Lai has begun storing water without a license, nearly a year after a dam breach flooded a village, destroyed crops and inflicted huge losses.
The plant, which is located in the Central Highland province's Duc Co District, has also ignored a request by the district administration to stop the illegal activity, local reports say.
When the plant's dam broke in June last year, water flooded the whole village five kilometers away and 10 local residents were swept away by the torrent. Fortunately, they did not drown.
The damage caused was estimated at more than VND3 billion (US$143,000).
The project's construction was suspended following the dam's collapse, with authorities saying work could only recommence after the dam was re-checked and verified by relevant authorities and consultants.
However, local reports say that the project investor, Bao Long-Gia Lai Hydroelectricity Industry Co., has started to operate the dam to store water in the reservoir without permission from relevant authorities.
Local residents are worried about their safety, the reports say.
Trinh Van Thanh, Vice Chairman of the Duc Co District People's Committee, said the committee is yet to receive any document from provincial authorities about the company's water storage activity.
People's Committee Chairman Vo Thanh Hung told the Nguoi Lao Dong (The labourer) that the company has disobeyed an order to stop storing water in the dam, so the matter has been reported to the Gia Lai Province People's Committee.
Roan Loan, a resident of Mok Den Village, said that all their crops had been swept away last year when the dam collapsed.
The villages have just begun to return to normal life and production, and they don't know what they would do if the dam broke again, he said.
Senior officials of the company told a Vietnam News Agency reporter in Gia Lai that they have not restarted work on the project, but taking measures to deal with the aftermath of last year's dam collapse.
The officials claimed that they explained that they were building dyke to protect the Ia Krel 2 plant's dam during the upcoming rainy season, and to store water again.
Work on the Ia Krel 2 project started in 2009. It was expected to begin operations in the third quarter of this year.
Several reservoirs in the central region will release water for agriculture and household use until August end to mitigate the impact of an ongoing drought, according to the central Department of Irrigation.
A Vuong, Dak Mi, Song Tranh 2, Song Ba Ha, and Don Duong will supply water to Quang Nam, Phu Yen, Binh Thuan, and Ninh Thuan provinces and Da Nang city.
Around 25,000ha of crops in the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) and central regions face a water shortage, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The include 6,000ha of rice and 6,500ha of coffee.
If the regions are not promptly provided water for irrigation, the parched area would increase further, it added.
Meanwhile, rainfall in most parts of the central region is likely to be below average this year, according to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.
In the Central Highlands and southern regions and Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan provinces, the rains are also expected to arrive late this year.
Many places in the two provinces are reeling under the drought.
Most central provinces have set up steering committees to combat the drought, especially to safeguard agricultural production.
Local authorities do not let farmers cultivate in areas not earmarked for crops so that the water shortage is not exacerbated.
Most rivers in the central region are flowing 30 -90 per cent below normal levels, according to the meteorological office.
Le Thanh Hai, deputy director of the office, said the water levels in rivers from Nghe An to Ninh Thuan would continue to decline until August and to record lows in some cases.
Dong Van Tu, deputy head of the Department of Irrigation's Irrigation Work Management Division, said the storage in large reservoirs in the south-central and Central Highlands regions was only around half of their designed capacities.
In the smaller ones, it is around 10-40 per cent, while many small reservoirs have dried up, he said.
In Dak Lak, for instance, only 10 per cent of small reservoirs still have water, he added. — VNS