Under a decision by Son La provincial authorities, the Xuan Nha hydropower plant will be developed by the Hanoi-based Thang Long Construction & Technical Services. The plant, covering an area of 28.36 hectares, is designed to have the capacity of 4MW and investment capital of VND140 billion.
Tran Ngoc Tan, director of Xuan Nha Natural Reserve, said locals don’t want a hydropower plant to be built there.
Under the current laws, hydropower projects need the government’s and National Assembly’s ratification if they use 20 hectares of SUF or more, while provincial authorities can grant licenses if the areas to be used are less than 20 hectares.
If the 4MW hydropower plant is built as projected, more than 28 hectares of forest land in Xuan Nha Natural Reserve in Son La province will disappear, and 16.9 hectares of the special-use forest will be eliminated.
The investor said the hydropower project would help the local socio-economic development, but no one believes that.
“The water won’t go to rice fields anymore, because the power plant will block the stream,” he said.
Vu Duc Thuan, head of the Son La Forest Rangers’ Unit, also protested the project.
Some years ago, when the Trung Son hydropower plant was built on Ma River, hundreds of hectares of forests in Xuan Nha Natural Reserve were lost. If the Xuan Nha plant is built, more forests would be eliminated.
Thuan warned that the hydropower plant will have an impact on the environment, biodiversity and hinder forest management.
Bui Van Suoi, 70, of Chieng Nua Hamlet and local residents have expressed their strong opposition to the project.
“We are afraid that the hydropower plant would cause landslides. Soil and rocks would attack our corn, cassava and rice fields,” he said.
Meanwhile, the locals in Thin Hamlet fear that when the hydropower plant blocks the Nam Quanh stream, they won’t have shrimp and fish to catch.
The area where the hydropower plant arises in the future is called the region’s ‘fish mine’. Local people have been catching fish there for tens of years, but they do not protect the fish resource.
There are 900 households and 4,000 people in Xuan Nha commune, with 60 percent considered poor households.