Last update 10/16/2011 8:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

Dong Nai 6 and 6A hydro-power projects: Where is the truth?
VietNamNet Bridge – Local newspapers have recently written many articles about the Dong Nai 6 and 6A hydro-power projects, invested by the Duc Long Gia Lai Group. Readers comment that some newspapers protested the construction of hydro-power plants inside the Cat Tien National Park, and some others supported. What is the truth?

Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A raise waves on Dong Nai River

Formalism exists in assessing environmental impacts

Dam projects in Dong Nai river require stricter assessments

Behind the true lie

Six hydropower plant projects round up Cat Tien National Park

For the people’s interest or investor’s interest?

Cat Tien National Park.

That is the question raised by Lam Dinh Uy, an expert on environmental sciences from the Center for Biodiversity and Development, about the two hydro-power projects that are located in the Cat Tien National Park, which is based in Dong Nai, Lam Dong, Binh Phuoc and Dak Nong provinces.

According to Mr. Uy, it is extremely important to make a survey over the households that will be influenced by the projects--because their social, economic, cultural lives will be directly and seriously affected.

Notably, most of affected families are Chau Ma ethnic minority people. The change of living environment of ethnic minority people means “killing” their cultural traits. “The investor made surveys with 29 families but after carefully considering these questionnaires, I have found out many matters,” Uy said.

“When they carried out surveys in formalism, community interests will be ignored and if something happens, that community will be hit, not the investor,” Uy added.

Both sets of appendix of the reports on environmental impacts of the Dong Nai 6 and 6A hydro-power projects include the same 29 questionnaires. It proves that the investor did not conduct serious surveys over the community that will be affected by their projects.

Of the 29 questionnaires, some were verified by the local government and some did not have (or invalid). Some of them do not note the day of survey and some even have wrong addresses of the interviewees.

Many scientists question why contents on resettlement, site clearance and land compensation, which have no connection to the projects, appeared in the questionnaires. They doubt that these contents were copied from other projects. “It is irresponsible that many questionnaires have no value of reference,” Uy said.

Another matter is riverbank fields of Chau Ma and M’Nong ethnic minority people will be devoted to the hydro-power projects, so they will have to destroy forest to till the field. This will be a great pressure on preservation of virgin forest.

The resources of fish that locals net manually from the Dong Nai River will be also seriously affected because fish will be unable to swim upriver for reproduction.

Many scientific works have proven that hydro-power plants that are already built on the Dong Nai River have caused the sharp reduction of the quantity and quality of fish. Some species have disappeared. The lives of Chau Ma and M’Nong people will get worse.

Many risks

In front of many journalists and scientists, a representative of the Duc Long Gia Lai Group confirmed: “Once they read our final reports on environmental impacts, anyone who is talented, has far vision and keen to the country’s development will warmly support our projects!”

Other officials of Duc Long Gia Lai group also said that the reports on environmental impacts compiled by the Irrigation Planning Institute for the Southern Region is incomplete, so they are misunderstood as copied ones. They said the final reports must have the signature of Mr. Nguyen Dinh Trac, the group’s general director.

The author of this article compared the two final reports on environmental impacts of the Dong Nai 6 and 6A hydro-power projects and detected that the report for the Dong Nai 6 project was noted as 6A project. The contents of the both reports are similar and did not have the separation of researched areas.

It proves that the final reports were still copied of each other because the research of environmental impacts of two projects, which are located at different locations, must be different.

Vu Ngoc Long, vice head of the Institute for Tropical Biology, said that he had carefully researched of the final reports, which have the signature of Duc Long Gia Lai Group’s general director and discovered many problems.

Many documents included in the two reports are similar. Long doubted that the investor used them as a trick to make the reports thicker. If the investor explains that it is the fault made by the one who make photocopies of the reports, how can they explain about the different handwritings, numbers and signatures in these similar documents?

Some documents do not have numbers, dates of issuance. They only have the signatures and name of the officials who signed them.

There are both legal and scientific aspects associated with documents related to these projects. If the two projects, which are criticized by scientists for their risks, are approved, they would be disasterous for the Cat Tien National Park in particular and the environmental in general.

In their first reports, the investor confirms to organize a dialogue with locals, at the witness of the local authorities and the dialogue minutes would be added to the final report. However, the final report did not have the minutes.

The fate of 370 hectares of the Cat Tien National Park and the surrounding area and the destiny of many Chau Ma and M’Nong ethnic families are hanging until the National Assembly makes the final decision.

The Duc Long Gia Lai Group 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, including 135 hectares of the Cat Tien National Park, which was recognized by the UNESCO as a world’s biosphere reserve in 2001, and 144ha hectares of the Nam Cat Tien protective forest.

In a document sent to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung reporting about the two projects, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hua Duc Nhi, wrote that relevant ministries and branches all have supported the two projects.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai in September 2009, agreed in principle on adding these two projects to the government’s list of national power projects in between 2006-2015 and vision to 2025.

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 district of Dak Nong province, which covers the forest land area of nearly 200 hectares.

The Dong Nai 6A has the designed capacity of 106MW, covers and forest land area of 175 hectares.

According to Deputy Minister Nhi, Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A projects would affect the forest resources and biodiversity of the Cat Tien National Park and Nam Cat Tien preventive forest, but it will 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.

However, under the National Assembly’s Resolution 66 dated June 29, 2006, the transformation of any 50 hectares of national or special forests into other non-forest purposes must be considered and approved by the National Assembly.

Also, construction of the projects would violate the 2008 Law on Biological Diversity, according to the Cat Tien National Park’s director Tran Van Thanh.

In August, 2010, during her talks with Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan, Katherine Muller Marin, who is chief representative of UNESCO Office in Hanoi, said the organization would support Vietnam in processing procedures for the park to be recognized as a world natural heritage.

Home to 1,600 species of flora, the park, based in Dong Nai, Lam Dong, Binh Phuoc and Dak Nong provinces, has 105 listed mammal species, 351 species of birds, over 120 reptile and amphibian species and over 130 species of freshwater fish.

My Quoc An
(To be continued...)