Tran Van Thanh, Director of the Cat Tien National Park, told Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon on June 28, that the Duc Long Gia Lai Joint Stock is seeking the permission to build Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A hydropower plants.
If the two projects are approved, the two power plants will be built on the total area of 375 hectares. If so, 135 hectares of the Cat Tien National Park and tens of hectares of the Nam Cat Tien protective forest will be cut and given to the hydropower plants.
Thanh believes that the existence of two hydropower plants Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A would devastate the environment and the biodiversity of the national park.
Currently, Duc Long Gia Lai Company is still conducting field research, while it has not got the investment license because it has not submitted the report on possible environment impacts.
“From the angle of conservation, we protest the setting of the hydropower plants in the national park,” Thanh said.
More worryingly, according to Thanh, another hydropower project – Dong Nai 5, has been licensed and the construction will be kicked off just in some days. The power plant is located on the upstream of Dong Nai River which runs across the Cat Tien National Park.
“As far as I know, the Dong Nai 5 hydropower plant is developed by the Vietnam Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin) which uses the capital sourced from a foreign bank,” Thanh said. “However, after realizing that the project will affect the Cat Tien National Park, the foreign bank has decided to cancel the lending contract”.
Also according to Thanh, on the basin of the upstream of the Dong Nai River, there are some more operational hydropower projects, including Dong Nai 3, Dong Nai 4 and Da Nhim. The existence of the hydropower plants has been threatening the water resource, the environment and the ecosystem of the Cat Tien National Park.
In an effort to rescue the forests, Thanh has many times asked the state to hire independent agencies to conduct a survey on the environmental impacts on the national park. However, to date, the work has not been implemented.
Meanwhile, in a document sent to the Prime Minister reporting about the two hydropower plant projects Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hua Duc Nhi wrote that relevant ministries and branches all have agreed to the building up of the two projects, after the Ministry of Industry and Trade added the projects into the plan on hydropower plant development on Dong Nai river in October 2010.
In March 2011, relevant branches did the stocktaking of the situation of the forest resources in three provinces Dak Nong, Binh Phuoc and Lam Dong.
The Dong Nai 6A project has the designed capacity of 135MW, with the left bank belonging to Cat Tien District of Lam Dong province and the right bank belonging to Dak Rlap of Dak Nong province, which covers the forest land area of nearly 200 hectares.
Meanwhile, the Dong Nai 6A has the designed capacity of 106MW, covers and forest land area of 175 hectares.
According to Nhi, the building of Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A would affect the forest resources and biodiversity of the Cat Tien National Park and Nam Cat Tien preventive forest, but it will not have little direct effects to the regional rhino conservation area and the Bau Sau area, because the power plants are 7-11 kilometers far from the two areas.