VietNamNet Bridge – The prolonged water disputes between hydropower plants
and local authorities in the central region and Central Highlands recently show
that big problems exist in the water natural resource management.
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While the number of people using water has been increasingly rapidly, the water
resources tend to get exhausted, disputes will occur, in Vietnam and other
countries in the world as well. This is a necessity. Therefore, Dr. Doan The Loi,
Head of the Institute for Economics and Water Resources Management, said that
Vietnam needs to think of the possible scenarios to settle the problems.
Since water is a kind of valuable natural resource, it must be used in the way
which can harmonize the benefits of involved subjects. Hydropower plant
developers want to use the water to make electricity, but their use must not
badly affect the agriculture production and daily household use.
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
It’s necessary to find out the solutions which allow to obtain many different
targets when using water. Water should be allocated in an effective way, so that
it can be used for hydropower plants which can help control the water capacity,
thus allowing to stop floods, for industrial production factories, households’
use and environment protection.
In order to do that, the government needs to build up reasonable policies based
on the close cooperation among ministries and branches to ensure the harmonized
benefits to different subjects.
While emphasizing the importance of the water resources management, Loi said
that the current management mechanism is unreasonable. Too many ministries and
agencies have got involved in the management.
In principle, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment is in charge
of the water natural resources. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Trade
takes care for hydropower plant projects, and the Ministry of Agriculture and
Rural Development takes the responsibility for the irrigation works that serve
the agriculture production and anti-flooding works.
“If there had been a more reasonable mechanism on the water management, there
should not have been such prolonged disputes,” Loi said.
It’s obvious that the relevant ministries did not have the necessary cooperation
to manage the natural resources. They should have sit together before the
hydropower plant projects were licensed to discuss the necessary measures to
both ensure enough water for the hydropower plants and provide enough water for
the people in the rivers’ lower course.
Analysts have also noted that since the Ministry of Natural Resources and the
Environment takes care for water natural resources, and the Ministry of Industry
and Trade takes care for hydropower plants, the number of water disputes tends
In fact, Loi said Vietnam has had a lot of legal documents stipulating the water
resource management, but these are just the documents with general regulations
which cannot help settle the disputes.
“We should have set up the rules of the games before the games kick off,” Loi
All the involved parties need to be given the right to raise questions to the
hydropower plant developers before the projects are implemented. For example,
people can question what the developers would do when the floods rush down, if
the developers are capable enough to deal with the emergency cases…