Officials at dam province point to dead rivers, poor living

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An inspection by officials in Phu Yen Province in south central Vietnam on Tuesday found rivers are dying and locals' lives are lagging as a result of hydropower dams.

The three hydropower plants in the province, put on the Ba Ha, Hinh and Krong H'nang rivers, have cleared more than 6,219 hectares of forest and farm land, to produce a total output of 376 megawatts of electricity.

However, there have been heavy consequences to locals' lives and the environment, said the officials who are the provincial representatives in the National Assembly. 

Tran Tho Au, vice chairman of Song Hinh District where the Hinh River is located, said since the hydropower plant began operation in the river in 2000, it has killed a part more than 20 kilometers long of the river.

Au said the plant on the Ba Ha River is also turning three kilometers of the river into desert.

Local farmers meanwhile have struggled with water shortages during the summer-fall crop. The dam is storing water at the time, and it's very difficult to persuade the dam managers to discharge 30 cubic meters of water per second during that time as agreed, he said.

Dao Tan Cam, director of Phu Yen Department of Industry and Trade, expressed similar anger about hydropower dams worsening water shortages during summer.

Cam said the An Khe - Kanat hydropower plant in Gia Lai Province neighboring Phu Yen also cut some water sources off from Phu Yen as it turned the water flow on the Ba River into Binh Dinh Province to the north of Phu Yen.

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Nguyen Thai Hoc, deputy head of Phu Yen delegation at the National Assembly, said during the inspection that "hydropower plants in Phu Yen have caused locals to lose their land, the country to lose its forests, and the ecosystem to lose its balance."

Hoc said there needs to be an estimation of how difficult life has been for people affected by hydropower plants.

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