Residents in the Central and Central Highlands have asked for hydro-power developers to give top priority to ensuring local livelihoods and protecting the environment while undertaking their projects.

They voiced their request when attending a forum in Thua Thien-Hue province on October 28 to address environmental and social issues with the developers of hydro-power projects since they have left observable damage over recent years.

The participants came from Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Phu Yen, Quang Nam, Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Binh provinces.

A survey showed that the Binh Dien hydropower plant in Thua Thien-Hue has negatively affected residents’ living conditions in upstream and downstream areas and reduced the population of some species of freshwater fish.

Highlighting the regions’ substantial potential of hydro-power production, the Director of the Centre for Social Research and Development (CSRD), Lam Thi Thu Suu, who is also the coordinator of the Vietnam Rivers Network, agreed that the activity had social and environmental impacts and needed to be addressed promptly.

Vietnam now has 815 hydropower projects with a combined capacity of 24,324.3 MW. Of these, 268 projects have been put into operation (14,240.5 MW); 205 projects are under construction (6,198.8 MW) and expected to be operated before 2017.

To ensure sustainable hydropower development and environmental and social protection, the Prime Minister has directed ministries, branches and localities involved to operate hydropower plants as processes approved, ensure power generation efficiency, and regulate sufficient water sources for the downstream.-VNA