Opinion
Stop the romantic quest that could kill Vietnam's mother river
  • By Bui Hoang Tam | dtinews.vn | May 09, 2016 11:27 AM
 >>  Red River mega project faces strong opposition

The mega project to build a canal and several hydropower plants on the Red River has been criticised for its scale and environmental implications.

Xuan Thien Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of Vietnam’s Thai Group, proposed an ambitious VND24.5bn (USD1bn) project that will open a canal and multiple hydropower plants on the Red River, which flows through ten northern provinces. According to the proposal, the Red River will be divided into six parts by six hydropower plant dams. The investor expects to contribute 0.91 billion kwh to the national grid a year and recoup its investment within 25 years.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment already gave its support to the project and is seeking permission from the prime minister.

On May 5, Nguyen Xuan Tu, director of the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Department of Supervision and Evaluation of Investment said they received the highly positive feedback from official bodies in local areas.

 

Director of the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Department of Supervision and Evaluation of Investment, Nguyen Xuan Tu

It is unclear who would have given Tu such feedback as many experts said that the supposed benefits were illusionary. On May 8, Dan Tri gathered opinions from 1,468 readers and 88.35 percent voted to scrap the project.

Former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dang Hung Vo pointed out on Vietnamnet News that this project is "a romantic poem only exists in heaven".


 Former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dang Hung Vo

According to him, Vietnam has no urgent need to improve the water route connecting Hanoi, Lao Cai Province and Haiphong. Vo thought the hydropower plants idea sounded attractive, but was not of any practical use because of the insufficient water levels in the Red River, even if a deeper channel was built it would probably benefit China’s Yunnan Province more than Vietnam.

In addition, they will have to deal with complicated ground clearance work and the people will face troublesome resettlement issues. The environment would undoubtedly be affected.

Vo then emphasised that the ‘Fengshui’ of the area would be changed for the worst. "In the old books, Red River and the parallel mountains are referred to as the dragon's blood that runs from Tibet to Vietnam. It helps Vietnam endure through its turbulent history," he claimed.

What would have happened if the river had not existed? In many people's mind, the Red River is to Vietnamese like the Ganga River is to Indians. It holds important spiritual meaning for many people.

Vo might have claimed the project was like a ‘romantic poem’, but poets tend to treasure rivers instead of killing them off. Let's stop this ‘romantic’ idea that threatens our Mother River.

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