Prime Minister yet to consider billion-dollar Red River hydropower and man-made waterway

By Toan Dao   May 9, 2016 | 05:16 pm PT
Prime Minister yet to consider billion-dollar Red River hydropower and man-made waterway
Red River delta. Photo by Vu Quang Ngoc/VnExpress Photo Contest
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has decided not to consider the approval of a controversial $1.1 billion scheme to open a water route and building six hydropower plants on the Red River recently proposed by a local company, a government statement showed late Monday.

The proposal has not included sufficient grounds for consideration as required by laws yet, the statement said.

Xuan Thien Company Limited, a subsidiary of Vietnam’s Thai Group, is seeking the government’s approval to invest VND24.5 trillion (about $1.1 billion) in the project. The Ministry of Planning and Investment had submitted the proposal to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc for consideration.

Phuc asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment, in collaboration with other relevant ministries, to set up a masterplan for sustainable development of the Red River. The planning must be conducted carefully and scientifically. Scientists, research organizations, Vietnamese Fartherland Front and other social political groups which represent interest of residents in the Red River Delta should be given chances to comment on the masterplan.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment is responsible for initiating ways to implement the masterplan after it is approved, the government said.

The Red River begins in China’s Yunan province and flows down through Northern Vietnam and ends at the Gulf of Tonkin. The Red River Delta is Vietnam's second largest rice land, and is also known for its violent floods and seasonal fluctuations.

Xuan Thien company's waterway proposal said to connect provinces and cities in the delta to mountainous areas by combining the existing Hai Phong – Viet Tri route in Phu Tho province with the Hanoi – Lach Giang route in Nam Dinh province.

The plan is to dredge a 288km stretch of the river and set up six hydropowers dams to increase water levels and allow big vessels safe passage. Total electricity output from the power plants is expected to reach 912 kWh per year.

Xuan Thien’s proposal draws questions from the public concerning environment, security and defense, as well as project feasibility.  

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