Hydropower investor says Vietnam needs controversial dam projects

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The investor of two controversial hydropower projects planned near a protected jungle in southern Vietnam has admitted the dams would affect the jungle's biodiversity, but maintained that they are needed to slake Vietnam's thirst for energy.

Bui Phap, board chairman of Duc Long Gia Lai Group, told Thanh Nien the Dong Nai 6 and Dong Nai 6A projects are just two of many hydropower projects on the Dong Nai River.

"We admit the projects would have certain impacts on the Cat Tien National Park, but we will try to minimize the bad impacts on the ecosystem," he said.

Phap noted that the dams would supply around one billion KWh of electricity per year, helping to satisfy the country's need for energy.

"Once the dams are built, 370 hectares of forest land, of which 137 hectares belong to the park, would be submerged.

"But a number of scientists who have made field trips to the park said most of the affected area is just bamboo forests."

Phap said the hydropower plants will be located on the bank of the Dong Nai River outside Cat Tien to minimize the impacts on the park.

"We affirm there will be no relocation of residents for site clearance.

"The impacts on the park's ecosystem are acceptable compared with its energy benefits."

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He also pledged that the company would replant trees to make up for the lost forest area.

On Monday, scientists from the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, the Vietnam Rivers Network and the Cat Tien National Park voiced their concerns over the two projects' probable impacts on the park and the Dong Nai River.

They said the two projects would add to a tangled network of power dams on the river, increasing the risk of floods in the rainy season and domestic water shortages in dry season.

The dams will also affect the habitat of several endangered animal species in the park, according to the park's management board.

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