VietNamNet Bridge – Where there are hydropower plants, the battles between
the local people and the plants’ developers have been lasting for many years.
A lot of hydropower plants have been built on the upper course of rivers to
generate electricity to ease the thirst for electricity from industries and
households. However, the plants, which need huge volumes of water to run their
turbines, have caused a drought to the residents in the lower course of the
While people keep complaining about the lack of water for daily use, the owners
of the hydropower plants and state management agencies simply say they have done
all the things they can as promised in the reports on the possible impacts of
the investment projects on the environment.
Therefore, the battles between the involved parties which both need water, have
been lasting for the last many years and have not reached a common voice.
The battle for the water of the Ba River broke out as soon as the An Khe – Kanak
hydropower plant began storing water and generated electricity. The local
authorities of the Gia Lai and Phu Yen provinces complained that the water of
the Ba River has been used up by the power plant, while no water has been left
for the local people’s daily use.
Tran Trung Thanh, Deputy Director of the Meteorological stations in the central
region, said it’s a taboo to transfer the water from one river basin to another.
He believes that it’s necessary to demolish the hydropower plant to give the
water back to the river and the local ecosystem.
However, the developer of the An Khe – Kanak affirmed that the company has done
everything written down in the report on the possible impacts on the environment
which was approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment in
The hydropower plant has broken the natural laws of the Ba River. This has
resulted in the serious water shortage in the area, making hundreds of thousands
of people, living on the river’s water, suffer.
In Gia Lai province alone, 450,000 people in 8 districts and towns in the
southeast have suffered heavily because of the water exhaustion.
The Gia Lai provincial authorities have many times asked the government, central
agencies and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment to apply
necessary measures to settle the problems.
Like the other hydropower plant developers, the management board of the Thuong
Kon Tum hydropower plant on Dak Snghe river of Kon Tum province, has affirmed
that the developer has followed all the restrictions by the watchdog agency.
Especially, the hydropower plant has been doing “more than it is requested”: it
can ensure the water flow speed of up to 3 cubic meters per second instead of
0.9 cubic meters per second as instructed.
However, 0.9 cubic meters per second is a too low level. In fact, the normal
water flow on Dak Snghe River was 10 cubic meters per second at the lowest,
while the figure was over 15 cubic meters per second on Dak Bla River.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment has been criticized for
the bad works in considering the reports on possible impacts on the environment
submitted by hydropower plants’ developers, which has lent a hand to the plants
to drive the rivers to death.