The Việt Nam River Network (VRN) has called for the cancellation of a transportation and hydroelectric project along the Hồng (Red) River in the north of Việt Nam.
In a statement issued late last week, the group sought to cancel the project because of the potential negative impact to the biodiversity in the river basin, as well as the livelihood of residents in the project area and nearby.
Xuân Thiện Co. Ltd, a private company based in northern Ninh Bình Province, proposed a US$1.1 billion mega-project to create a 288km transportation corridor along the Red River, stretching from the Chinese border in Lào Cai through Yên Bái, Phú Thọ, Hà Nội and Hải Phòng, and continuing to Nam Định Province.
The proposed plans call for the creation of at least three, and a maximum of six, hydroelectric reservoirs along the corridor, which expect to provide 912 million KWs of electricity per year, along with raising water levels on the river to allow large vessels to operate.
VRN added that the upper territory of the Red River is the breeding area for fish and home to aquatic life, and the building of the reservoirs could result in the extinction of these species.
They further charged that construction of the reservoirs would collapse part of the riverbed, causing a decrease of underground water in the basin. The ecology on the land will then be influenced, harming the biodiversity of the basin.
VRN said they expect the project would change the flow of the river and cause water shortages for agriculture and aquaculture, which might affect the livelihood of millions of residents of eight provinces in the Red River delta.
The low production of electricity, approximately one per cent contributed to the total national electricity production, are among the arguments mentioned by VRN. It said the six proposed hydropower plants would create harmful reservoirs, even as the potential for clean and renewal energy is not exploited.
The proposed project is said to have not been included in the master plan and electricity plan of the Red River Delta, claiming the project will harm the master plan.
VRN also expressed concern about the management by a private company, voicing concern that social benefits and environmental conservation norms will be secondary to seeking profits by the company.
According to the Vietnamese Enterprise Law, the project could be sold if the operating company has losses and creates potential danger to society and the nation’s defense.
VRN added that a decision by the government to cancel the project would help to save the biodiversity, ensure local livelihoods and keep the river as a natural resource for future generations.
Last Monday, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc issued an official note, affirming that the Government has not started the process of approving the project yet.