Hydropower lucre hides major fault lines

As published in Thanh Nien News on 05/10/2012

A few profit and many, including future generations, will pay the price for Vietnam’s short-sighted energy policy 

The controversy over the flawed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) done for the Song Tranh Dam, now blamed for causing many tremors and quakes in the central province of Quang Nam since last November, has exposed major problems in the assessment and approval process of such projects.

Experts have said that the EIAs contain factual errors and have deliberately downplayed the ecological and environmental risks of the projects. They also attribute the high profitability of the hydropower sector mostly to the cozy relationship companies enjoy with local governments that are mandated to issue project licenses in their localities. The firms manage to get favorable deals including the right to exploit water resources free of charge. “Where there is weak supervision of planning, design, construction and operation of hydropower projects (weak EIAs), the investment costs may go down and profits go up,” UNDP’s Neefjes said.

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