Wed. Feb 1st, 2023

VietNamNet Bridge – Water is the national property which has been shared
among the people in the community. And when a party conducts the behaviors that
cause the harm to the others’ benefit, the others can sue the party for the
behavior.

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battles for water getting more violent

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Vietnam, hydropower plants, river network, reports, law

Dr. Vu Ngoc Long, Head of the Southern Bionomics Institute, Director of the
Center for Biodiversity and Development (CBD), affirmed that both the local
authorities and local people can come forward and sue the hydropower plants’
board of management for violating the natural resource law.

Hydropower plants’ designers set up very large tunnels and pipes that go through
the mountains, carrying water from the main stream of river to the plants’
turbines. In principle, the water needs to flow in the pipes at steep slope and
powerful intensity to be able to create big power.

However, this would create the “dead rivers” because the river’s water has been
transferred to other places.

Therefore, he said, the mainstream diversion of the Vu Gia and Thu Bon rivers to
provide water to the Dak Mi 4 hydropower plant, like many other hydropower
projects, has caused harm to the environment. It may kill the entire ecosystem
of the river whose water has been stolen.

Dr. Le Anh Tuan from the Institute for Climate Change Studies, an arm of the Can
Tho University said the water supply has been short, and hydropower plants try
to hold the water to run turbines for electricity generation. As such, the
plants have been trying to optimize their profits, while ignoring the benefits
of people in the lower course.

In principle, state management agencies have to clearly stipulate the minimum
water capacity hydropower plants have to discharge to the lower course. It is
not the hydropower plants’ board of management which has the right to determine
the water capacity.

However, Tuan said, there has been no legal provision on this issue. In fact,
the regulations have mentioned the rights and responsibilities of management
agencies in the field, but these are just vague regulations with no scientific
basis.

“The water resources must be allocated on the basis of sharing benefits and
risks among the involved parties. If necessary, hydropower plants have to use a
part of their profits to compensate the harms they cause to the environment and
people,” Tuan said.

Dr. Vu Ngoc Long affirmed that the Dak Mi 4 deliberately temporarily discharged
water to Da Nang City and Quang Nam province. The board of management of the
hydropower plant explained that it still could not discharge water because it
was waiting for the water reservoirs’ operation procedure to be approved by the
government.

However, in fact, the hydropower plant developer tried to delay the water
discharge to optimize their profits.

“People don’t want to wait for getting water. They can sue the board of
management of the hydropower plant,” Long said.

“It’s obvious that problems exist in the project’s report on the possible
impacts on the environment. Local authorities can request the hydropower plant
to give back the water and the other natural resources which have been lost due
to the operation of the plant,” he added.

Lawyer Nguyen Van Hau, Deputy Chair of the HCM City Bar Association, has pointed
out that according to the Water Natural Resource Ordinance, people have the
right to use clean water, while household use and production are the priority
subjects in using clean water.

Thien Nhien

By vivian