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Experts Warn Against Building Hydropower Plants On Red River

Lao Cai Province authorities have proposed building two hydropower plants on the Red River.

In November 2018, the province approved the inspection and finalized additional reports for the proposal of two hydropower plants, including the Thai Nien Hydropower and Bao Ha Hydropower projects, Bao Dat Viet reports. Recently, the Lao Cai Province People's Committee submitted these documents to the Prime Minister for approval. The two projects would produce a total of 100 megawatts of power.

The projects, however, have raised many concerns among scientists regarding the impact they might have on the Red River. Professor Vu Trong Hong, a former Minister of Irrigation, told the news source that building the dams is a bad idea, and the province should not waste any resources researching their feasibility.

According to Hong, in order for the plants to produce power, water has to be drawn directly from the Red River, which means disrupting its flow. Doing this during the wet season will be too dangerous for the plants, and during the dry season, they will prevent water from flowing downstream to the lowlands.

Hong argues that because the Red River is the main source of water for the Red River Delta, which includes Hanoi, disrupting its flow would undermine the livelihood of nearby residents. For a project that will only produce 100 megawatts, the damage outweighs the benefits, he argues.

Bui Thi An, a former member of the National Assembly’s Science, Technology and Environment Committee, agrees with this point, VietnamNet reports, adding that she couldn't understand Lao Cai's insistence on the projects despite previous rejections of similar projects.

Echoing these arguments, Le Cong Nhuong, a member of the same committee, cited the example of the hydropower projects on the Mekong River, and how they have caused droughts and water shortages in many provinces in the Mekong Delta in the last few years.

“It is necessary to consider hydropower projects on the Red River very carefully. I personally think Vietnam should not build the plants,” Nhuong told the news source.

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