Vietnam to cancel 31 hydropower plants in Central Highlands

By Tran Hieu, Thanh Nien News

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The Ia Krel 2 hydropower dam collapsed on August 1. Photo: Tran Hieu The Ia Krel 2 hydropower dam collapsed on August 1. Photo: Tran Hieu


Central government inspectors have called for the cancellation of 31 hydropower projects in Gia Lai Province.
Their list includes dams that are already under construction.
The recommendations followed a review of 74 medium and small-scale hydropower projects in the Central Highlands province.
Some had been assessed by the province and approved by the ministry; others had only been approved by the province following a review of the paperwork submitted by developers.
According to inspectors, many of the cancellations were projects that violated the province's approved hydropower plan.
However, the inspectors found that after securing government approval, many investors demanded modifications to their projects, even while they were supposed to be awaiting approval for said modifications.
That work proved particularly dangerous due to the poor quality of construction, the inspectors found. 
While the province's approved dam construction plan included projects that had been jointly approved by both the provincial and central departments of industry and trade, inspectors found problems with 28 projects that Gia Lai Province had reviewed on paper and recommended for approval. 
The government inspectors found three dams had  been built in a place that differed from the design, and asked central government agencies to amend the approved dam map, so those projects will become legal.
Five others dams were found to have been built on unplanned sites by investors who never sought inclusion in the government's master plan.
A total of 33 projects missed their planned deadlines.
Inspectors advised the central government to shut down 14 projects that are currently under construction and cancel 17 others that have been planned on paper.
Aside from the hydropower dam problems, inspectors found breaches of land management protocols throughout the province.
Between 2001 and 2010, 16 of the province's 17 districts failed to produce a map detailing the allocation of public land.
Authorities in Pleiku, An Khe and Chu Pah towns were discovered to have allocated that land improperly.
More specifically, the Gia Lai People’s Committee, was found to have improperly allocated land in the Cau Sat urban area and the Hoi Phu commercial zone.
Inspectors say the agency loosely managed its forest land after the central government allowed it to plant rubber trees on 50,000 hectares (12,355 acres) of forest.
The trees that were cut down in the process were sold, without the required public bidding process.
Inspectors also held the provincial government responsible for the Chu Se Rubber Company unauthorized purchase of land held by ethnic minority communities to use as a rubber plantation.
The unauthorized sales led to complaints and instability, inspectors said.
Inspectors asked the provincial officials to identify and punish the individuals and entities responsible for these errors.

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