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ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL GUIDELINES FOR DEVELOPMENT OF HYDROELECTRIC PROJECTS IN VIETNAM

ABSTRACT:

Vietnam is endowed  with rich potential of hydropower (HP) with more than 35,000  MW of total generation capacity, of which small HP is around 4,000 MW. The renewable energy (RE) is strongly promoted by the Government of Vietnam as a measure to ensure the country’s energy security, affordability and sustainability as   well as battle the climate change. A number of policies, regulations have been  issued  by the Government to promote RE.
 

Although the Government, ministries and provincial authorities strictly require HP projects to comply with the requirements on environmental and social aspects as specified in relevant Laws, Decrees and Regulations, however, there has  been increasing concerns by the Government and civil society  on  shortcomings  of  safeguard compliance by the HPs which has caused negative impacts  to  the environment as well as local community hindering the  sustainable developments of  HPs in Vietnam. In addition to the weak enforcement of the requirements, lack of understanding and awareness of potential social and environmental impacts, available technical measures, solutions, good practical experience and lessons learned by the project donors, contractors, consultants as well as the Government agencies is also considered as a major factor causing the situation. Therefore, to  develop  environmental and social safeguard guidelines for application by all HPs  in  Vietnam  is utmost necessary.

Based on the requirements from Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), the World  Bank (WB), Economic Cooperation Department of Switzerland  (SECO),  results  of  field surveys and document review in 2016 a Technical Environmental and Social Guidelines for Development of Hydroelectric Projects (the Guidelines) were prepared by VESDEC and national experts. The main targets of the Guidelines are (i) identification of the main issues of hydropower projects in Vietnam; (ii) identification  of potential impacts/issues and practical solutions/measures for those identified issues  in 3 stages: project preparation/land clearance; construction, and operation,  which  are realistic under the Vietnam situation taking into account the international  practices; and (iii) environmental management  procedures.
The key environmental and social issues of hydroelectric projects focused in the Guidelines are (i) ecological impacts caused by deforestation in the pre-construction and construction stages and decrease of   downstream flow in the operation stage;    (ii) social impacts to native ethnic peoples and traditional culture caused by land  clearance, resettlement and damage of biological resources; (iii) environmental pollution, soil erosion in the construction and operation stages;  (iv)  occupational safety in construction stage and (v) dam safety and ecological flow in the operation stage.
The guidelines,  included 120 pages and 12 appendixes, are presented in practical   ways and understandable by the targeted audiences. They were transferred to various agencies, universities, projects owners, donors and consultants by the training programs held in Hanoi in December  2016.
 
INTRODUCTION
Renewable energy is strongly promoted by the Government of Vietnam as a measure  to ensure the country’s energy security, affordability and sustainability as  well  as battle the climate change. A number of policies, regulations have been issued by the Government. In particularly, the Electricity Law requires support to be provided to electricity generation from renewable sources in the forms of investment incentives, preferential electricity prices and preferential taxes. The decision N0 1208/QD-TTg dated 21st July 2011 by the Prime Minister approving the  National Power  Master  Plan set the targets of renewable energy capacity accounting for 5.6% and 9.4% in 2020 and 2030, respectively.
Vietnam is endowed with rich potential of small hydropower with more than 1,000 sites under 30 MW totaling capacity around 4,000 MW were assessed technically viable, which could significantly contribute the RE targets. The decision No. 18/2008/QĐ-BCT dated approving avoided cost for  small  hydropower  project  (SHPs) has boosted up the development of small hydropower projects. It is estimated about 190 SHPs has been developed and 456 other SHPs are under preparation with total capacity of 6,349 MW.
The SHPs are required to comply with the Government requirements  on environmental and social aspects as specified in relevant laws,  decrees  and regulations. However, there has been increasing concerns  by the  Government  and civil society on shortcomings of safeguard compliance by the SHPs which has caused negative impacts to the environment as well as local community hindering the sustainable developments of small hydropower in Vietnam. In addition to the weak enforcement of the requirements, lack of understanding and awareness of potential social and environmental impacts, available technical measures, solutions, good practical experience and lessons learned by the project donors,  contractors,  consultants as well as the Government agencies is also considered as a major factor causing the situation. MOIT thus wishes to develop environmental and  social safeguard guidelines for application by all SHPs in Vietnam improving the safeguard compliance and sustainable development of SHPs to further boost up the small hydropower development in Vietnam. The guideline is expected to be issued under a MOIT decision.

 The safeguard guidelines are mainly aimed to small hydropower project donors, contractors, consultants and relevant Governmental agencies covering all stages of small hydropower development e.g. planning, preparation, appraisal, implementation and operation. The guidelines shall help the audiences to (i) identify the potential impacts/issues and practical solutions/measures for those identified issues, which are doable/realistic under the Vietnam situation taking into account the international practices; and (ii) implementation procedures. The guidelines shall be presented in practical ways and understandable by the targeted  audiences.
The Institute of Environmental Science and Development (VESDEC – the  Consultant), led by Le Trinh as a study team leader, with participation of a number of hydropower, ecological and social experts was selected according to the applicable World Bank Guidelines on Consultant Selection to develop the safeguard guidelines. The Consultant is responsible also to conduct necessary training/capacity building for relevant stakeholders in application of the guidelines, particularly MOIT, MONRE, DONREs, project donors, consultants, contractors, research institutes,  etc.

1.     ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL GUIDELINES PREPARED BY VESDEC FOR WB, SECO AND  MOIT

1.1.   Process of   Guideline Preparation
The Consultant has undertaken following tasks to study and preparation of the environmental and social guidelines.

a.   Review of safeguard compliance of small hydropowers in Vietnam and international experience

b.  Field surveys at small hydropower projects in  Vietnam

a.   Development of guideline outline

b.  Development of the guidelines

c.   Capacity building and training

2. MAIN ISSUES IN THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL GUIDELINES
The Guidelines include a main volume with 120 pages and a volume of Appendixes with 12 appendixes.
The Guidelines provide almost all potential environmental and social impacts and mitigation measures, some figures below, taken in the areas, visited by the
Consultant, give some of typical impacts to be carefully considered in EIA study and appraisal for hydropower projects.

2.1. Main Impacts and Mitigation Measures in the Pre-Construction Stage

 

Simplifized scheme of hydropower plants

2.1.1.   Impacts due to land acquisition
a.         Encroachment into forests/ protected areas: Damage forests and wildlife; consequently, adverse impacts on ground water sourece; increase floods,  soil  erosion; loss of income in biological resources  etc.
 
 

Mitigation Measures: Properly seclect the project area to avoid ecological sensitive areas, basing on the Decrees/Circulars on protected sites and provincial guidelines  for forest protection.
b.   Encroachment into cultivated and/or residential lands of local people: adverse impacts on native culture and livelihoods of indigenous people; damage of historic, cultural or religeous sites...

 
  

Mitigation measures: (i) Carefully study on native culture and livelihoods of indigenous people; historic, cultural or religeous sites before seclection  of  the  project sites; (ii) Proper implementation of compensation, resettlement and support policies; policy for development of ethnic minority  people
2.1.2.   Impacts due to preparation of reservoir
Damage vegetation cover; adverse impacts on physical properties; creation of reservoir pollution during water  filling.
 Mitigation measures: (i) Proper implementation of reservoir bed clearance; (ii) Removal of all vegetation wastes from the reservoir bed; (iii) Study to find and remove archaeological objects.
 
 

2.2.   Impacts and Mitigation Measures in the Construction  Stage

2.2.1.     Damage of forest and/or vegetation cover due to construction of  assess  roads, waste disposal sites, quarries; reservoir, dams,  etc.…

Mitigation Measures: (i) Proper planning of s assess roads, waste disposal sites, quarries, reservoir, dams, etc. to avoid loss of biologial resources during project construction.

 
 

2.2.2.   Air, noise, vibration pollution by transport and construction  activities

Mitigation Measures: (i) Proper implementation of measures suitable for air, noise, vibration pollution control: figures below.
 
  

2.2.3 River, stream water pollution by disposal of construction wastes, domestic ans hazardous waste
 
 

Mitigation Measures: (i) Proper waste management: segregation of non- hazardous and hazardous wastes; safe storation, disposal, transportation and treatment: figures below
 
 

2.2.4.     River/stream pollution and sedimentation caused by run-off water from construction sites

 

Mitigation Measures: (i) Proper installation of temporary reservoirs for storation of run-off water: figures above.

2.2.5.   Soil erosion, land slide caused by earth words

Mitigation Measures: (i) Installation of covers to avoid run-off water at slops; (ii) Growth of grasses on the palaces needed for soil erossion  prevention.
 
 

2.2.6.   Safety and health protection

Constrcution works, especially use of explosive materials,  working  at  high elevation, or at dam, tunel construction sites and at worker camps may cause safety and health problems for workers.
Mitigation Measures: (i) Strictly follow the Guidelines in transport, storage, use of explosive materials; (ii) Proper management of fuels and chemicals; (iii) Use of  safety protection devices; (iv) Keeping clean sanitation conditions for workers; (v) Contagious disease prevention.

 
 

2.3.   Impacts and Mitigation Measures in the Operation  Stage

2.3.1. Impacts to downstream hydrology caused by water storage in  reservoirs
 

Strong change in downstream hydrology, creating death river; affecting on aquatic ecology, fishery and water supply for downstream  areas.
Mitigation Measures: (i) Study and install suitable ecological flow systems to maintain down stream flow and aquatic  ecosystem.

 

 

2.3.2.   Diversion of water flow

This may strongly affect water balance in the basin; conflicts  between  sectors  and/or provinces/districts in water  use.
Mitigation Measures: Following the Governmenal guidelines in water   management

2.3.3. Water pollution: in reservoirs and downstream.

 
 

Reservoir pollution by domestic wastes and eutrofication by water stagnation and run-off water.
Downstream pollution by discharge of muddy water from upstream reservoir (figure above).
2.3.4. Loss of fish resource due to hindrance of river flow

 
  

Mitigation Measures: Development of aquaculture in reservoirs to compensate the loss of fish.
2.3.5. Dam safety:
Dam beakage, causing flood for downstream area, damaging properties and life of people (figure above).
Mitigation Measures: (i) Proper design, constrcution and operation of dams; (ii) Preparation and training of dam risk response plan.

Author: Mr. Le Trinh

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