Vietnamese non-governmental organizations and experts have urged the country to reconsider its plans to develop more hydropower projects they claim will destroy lives and harm the environment.
In its latest statement, the Vietnam Rivers Network a forum of Vietnamese NGOs and experts working to protect local rivers -- warned that: "To develop hydropower, even if in a "˜stable' way, is to exchange environmental and social development for economic development," VnExpress reported Thursday.
"We should not consider hydropower a clean and cheap source of energy to be developed by all means and anywhere," it said.
Agencies need to take into account hydropower plants' effects and make preparations for possible dam collapses to decrease threats to communities affected by dams, VnExpress quoted VRN's statement as saying.
According to VRN experts, while water power plays an important role in the development of the economy and society, hydropower works on Vietnamese rivers have already badly affected the environment, ecology, people's livelihoods, water security and food security.
Many hydropower plants have already eaten up whole forests, and have heavily polluted several water sources, Dr. Dao Trong Hung from VRN was quoted as saying.
The people who have to be relocated to make way for the plants have to sacrifice even their local culture, which they lose following evacuations for the sake of investors, VRN said.
Under a plan approved by the government last year, Vietnam will increase its hydropower output from 9,200 MW in 2009 to 17,400 MW in 2020, accounting for over 23 percent of the country's energy, VnExpress said.
A previous study by the non-governmental and non-profit People and Nature Organization concluded that for every one million watts of energy produced, a hydropower plant destroys 16 hectares of forest, the report said.
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