Việt Nam Rivers Network (VRN) is launching a campaign to search for untouched rivers all over the country to call on policy makers, investors of development projects and the community to protect rivers. Dr Đào Trọng Tứ, VRN’s Head Coordinator, said many countries are searching for a virgin river - untouched by hydropower plant dams and reservoirs and other development projects, to keep it for the next generation.

    He said: “Searching for untouched rivers is significant because many rivers around the country are impacted by construction. The call to protect rivers shows the meaning of an untouched river to riverbank communities and hydrology, as well as nature and culture”.


Việt Nam Rivers Network is calling for the protection of local rivers from development projects


    At the seminar, participants agreed that the most common harm to rivers across the country were power dams and reservoirs as well as the encroachment of water surface to have more space for urban construction. Associate Prof  Dr Lê Anh Tuấn from Cần Thơ University said dams cut a river into sections and each section becomes a lake. Communities along the Mã River in Thanh Hóa Province witnessed these changes after five power plants were built on several sections.

   Ms. Phạm Thị Sơn, a resident in the province’s Cẩm Thượng District, said power plants along the Mã River released water, affecting the lives of residents as many villagers had to quit their jobs to look after their properties. Phạm Thị Diệu My, Director of the Huế-based Centre for Social Research and Development, added that communities with water worship rituals in the Central Highlands had to stop events as the rivers were blocked off for power dams.

   According to Mr. Đào Trọng Tứ, the call to protect rivers does not mean an opposition to power plants, but to inspire smart policies as well as the approval of power plant projects by policy makers and Governmental agencies. Obviously hydropower plants are necessary for development. However, related governmental agencies should rethink the number of plants on one river and the quantity of dams and reservoirs in each locality. Authorities in the field should also have a look at the development and operation of hydropower in the country.

    “The construction and the operation of the reservoirs flooded a wide area of trees, but a very small area was replanted as per the commitments stated in the investment licence” he said, adding that risk reduction measures included in the investment report were rarely applied in practice. Mr. Đào Trọng Tứ said saving rivers to save humans from climate change is a global trend. He said VRN expected to see Việt Nam move to protect rivers and keep some of the 340 rivers across the country untouched for future generations.


Bảo Bình (Source: Vietnam News)

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