Mekong Utility Watch

Vietnam assembly postpones debate on big dam plan

Reuters
March 28, 2002

The billion dollar Son La dam proposed for the Da River west of Hanoi has caused heated debate over safety fears and the need to relocate a large number of mainly ethnic minority people.

HANOI–Vietnam’s National Assembly has dropped plans to discuss a controversial big dam project in its current session, saying it requires more study, official media reported on Thursday.

The billion dollar dam proposed for the Da River west of Hanoi has caused heated debate over safety fears and the need to relocate a large number of mainly ethnic minority people.

Mai Thuc Lan, deputy chairman of the assembly, was quoted by the official Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying the fate of the huge power project would be decided at the end of the year.

“The preparation of the Son La hydropower project has not been done carefully,” he said, adding that the government had been asked to provide more details.

Lan added that the next session of the assembly, normally in October, would have no time to review the project.

“(So) at the end of this year a (final) plan for Son La hydropower plant will be decided.”

Tuoi Tre said that because the Son La debate had been dropped, the current assembly session would end on April 2, instead of April 8 as previously scheduled.

Vietnam is to hold five-yearly elections on May 19 to elect a new National Assembly.

It is expected to bring several key ministerial changes including the possible replacement of Prime Minister Phan Van Khai. Industry Ministry Dang Vu Chu and Planning and Investment Minister Tran Xuan Gia are also expected to be replaced.

The government has already scaled down the proposed dam. The smaller 215-metre dam would swamp 27,000 hectares (66,717 acres) of land and involve relocation of some 80,000 people, according to official media.

Vietnam has said 30 percent of the funding for the project would have to come from foreign sources, but diplomats say most international agencies would not want to be involved in a plan requiring massive relocations.

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Categories: Mekong Utility Watch

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