Lawmakers sounding off on destructive hydropower dams

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Concerned that the over-damming of Vietnam is devastating the country's environment, the National Assembly, Vietnam's legislature, will hold a hearing on the impacts of hydropower and has declared the issue top priority for 2014.

Phan Xuan Dung, chairman of the assembly's Science, Technology and Environment Committee, said major problems arising from hydropower dams have been reported.

"[Da Nang People's Committee Chairman] Van Huu Chien handed me documents about hydropower plants and said he would raise the issue at the National Assembly session," he said at a meeting of the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Tuesday.

"I came to Quang Ngai and Ca Mau and found many frustrating issues. Dong Nai [officials] also asked me to come."

In Da Nang, city authorities have asked the Dak Mi 4 Hydropower Plant to release water back into the Vu Gia River because more than 1.7 million residents living on its lower reaches are facing serious water shortages during the dry season. 

Song Tranh 2, another hydropower dam in central Vietnam, has also prompted concerns lately.

The Vietnam Institute of Geophysics said it is built on a fault line and an increasing number of earthquakes and tremors occurred there since the dam was completed in 2011.

The Song Tranh 2 Hydropower Dam is located in the province's Bac Tra My District, which had been hit by a total 66 earthquakes between the year 1715 and November 2012. But the rate has gone up startlingly in the last 12 months. There were 25 quakes between October 3 and December 16 last year alone. The latest tremor was reported last Sunday.

In another hydropower controversy, the Dong Nai People's Council, the local legislature, has requested that the National Assembly cancel a plan to build two hydropower dams in the province.

The dams, planned to be built in the core of the UNESCO-recognized Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve, could cause severe damage to the environment in the region, the agency said.

At a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Tuesday, Truong Thi Mai, chairman of the Social Affairs Committee, said there had been persistent problems involving hydropower dams and that lawmakers should get involved in the issue.

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