Solutions to environmental protection for hydropower projects in the Northern mountainous region
On October 14, in Hanoi, the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations (VUSTA) in collaboration with the Center for Non-Governmental Organization Information (NGO-IC) organized a workshop on assessing the situation and prosposing the solutions on environmental protection for hydropower projects in some northern mountainous provinces
Dr. Phan Tung Mau, Vice President of VUSTA
Speaking at opening session, Dr. Phan Tung Mau - Vice President of VUSTA, said that water resources are essential to human life, however the consequences of environmental pollution caused by hydroelectric projects in the northern mountainous region are posing negative impacts. Therefore, VUSTA is eager to absorb discussed opinions of the experts on the causes, shortcomings and proposed and recommended solutions to contribute to environmental protection in some northern mountainous provinces.
MSc Nguyen Tuan Cuong - Department of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Industry and Trade
According to Mr. Nguyen Tuan Cuong, Department of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Industry and Trade, hydropower projects are mostly built and invested in remote mountainous districts with mountainous terrain, steep slopes, frequent landslides in the rainy season, so it is very risky and faces many unforeseen risks in the construction process of these projects.
Hydropower construction progress must be in syncronized with the construction progress of other relevant plannings. However, in some localities, although there is a synchronous planning for electricity, transportation and infrastructure due to sufficient fund or inadequate allocation of funds, it has significantly affected the construction progress of hydropower projects;
The characteristic of the construction of hydropower projects is to require a large area of land acquisition, on average 1 MW occupies about 7.41 ha (including 0.078 ha of residential land, 0.256 ha of rice cultivation land, 0.808 ha of planting crops, 2,726 ha of forest land, 1,507 ha of water surface for rivers and streams and other types of land) and 0.16 households must be relocated and resettled;
The impacts of hydropower construction on the ecological environment in the construction phase (hydrological system, water quality, soil erosion, construction dust, noise...) have not been paid attention by the investor and the local state management agencies; the build of roads serving the construction and operation of hydropower projects, one side to contribute to traffic connections but also creates opportunities for loggers to access and transport illegally logs;
Dr. Hoang Van Thang - Chairman of Vietnam Large Dam and Water Resources Development Association
According to Dr. Hoang Van Thang - Chairman of Vietnam Large Dam and Water Resources Development Association, the survey report of 32 small-scale hydropower projects in Ha Giang (total installed capacity 634,8MW): land area acquisition is 1,641.8 ha, 2,586ha on average for 1MW, of which: agricultural production land is 425.9 ha, forestry land is 542.5 ha; other land is 673.4 ha
Surveying 4 hydropower projects under construction in Ha Giang in 2019, (total installed capacity 83.2MW), the area of acquired land is 90.9ha, an average of 1.1 ha of land acquired for 1 MW, of which, agricultural land is 5.5 ha, forestry land is 9.9 ha, other land is 75.5 ha (river and stream land, non-agricultural land...).
32 projects prepared to invest with total installed capacity 287.2 MW, the total acquired land area is 1,423.8 ha (average 4.95 ha / 1MW), of which, agricultural land is 42.1ha, forest land is 214.6 ha, other land is 1,167.1 ha.
The statistics show that due to topographical characteristics, unlike in the Central Highlands region, small-scale hydropower projects in the Northern do not use much land (as shown above), however, in some projects due to opening construction roads and indiscriminate dumping have occupied the area of protective forests, including natural forests. After the issue of Directive of the Secretariat on strengthening the Party's leadership towards the forest management, protection and development (Directive 13-CT/TW dated 12 January 2017) and the Law on Forestry (No. 16/2017/QH14), the activities related to forest has been more tightly managed.
Prof. Dr. Dao Xuan Hoc – Chairman of the Vietnam Water Resources Development Association
According to Prof. Dr. Dao Xuan Hoc, Chairman of the V ietnam Water Resources Development Association,the construction of the reservoir has disadvantages for both upstream and downstream sides. The most difficult and long-term problem is solving the consequences of flooding in the lake bed which impacts on series of issues such as relocation of population, cultural and social bases, land, trees, specialties, known and unknown minerals, wild animals to move and live, etc. This is a huge issue for the reservoir area.
A large amount of silt from rivers and streams will be retained in lakes. Reducing alluvium will lead to reduced productivity in agricultural production. Along with the flow regime change, the erosion of river banks, coastal areas and lower riverbeds will be happened.
The average discharge and total runoff in the flood season will decrease, the year medium and small floods happens in upstream, there will be no downstream floods. But extreme flood flows are still increasing significantly, with minimal dry out flows.
At the seminar, experts discussed and stated that it is necessary to assess the adverse impacts of some small hydropower projects on the environmental landscape in the region with potential for tourism development.
The scene of seminar
It is necessary to cautiously evaluate small hydropower projects on the main Red River (Lo river, Thao river, Chay river) and some level I tributaries on the the risk of causing natural disasters, landslide in downstream areas, biodiversity, water traffic and to consult widely the community when approving the plan.
Regarding the evaluation of design stages, it needs to improve appraisal capacity of specialized management agencies (provincial level) related to forest protection, impacts on water resources for production and daily life of local people, construction architecture, adequate policies for compensation, resettlement, waste disposal, dam safety and downstream areas...
News, photo: HT