Planned Dams in Vietnam

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This report, prepared in 2001, gives a brief overview of dams likely to move forward in Vietnam.


Project description: Capacity: 3,600-MW, consists of 10 turbines (360-MW each). Dam height 177 m. Reservoir surface area will be 44,043 hectares, and the reservoir volume will be 25 billion m³. The dam is being proposed to control floods and irrigate downstream areas, including midlands and Red River delta.

Location: Da River, in It Ong commune, Muong La district, Son La province (North Vietnam)

Status: The feasibility study was completed by Electricity of Vietnam. Sweco and Harza completed the final appraisal in 1999. The Politburo approved the project as part of a larger plan to boost economic development. However, at their annual session in June 2001, Members of Parliament in the National Assembly raised their concerns about the scale of the project and resettlement and asked for more detailed studies. Originally construction was to start in 2003, but it has been delayed to 2005. The construction is expected to take 15 years. The equipment will be purchased through annual installments.

Financing: Estimated cost is US$3.55 billion, of which a projected 70% will be raised through domestic financing and 30% through external financing. The World Bank funded a feasibility study on Ta Bu (Meyer, 1995), but has refused to fund construction. Right now, it seems unlikely that the project will receive external financing. There is a rumor that Electricity of Vietnam will increase electricity prices to help finance the project. The resettlement cost is estimated to be 14-17% of the total cost, the highest rate ever used for resettlement in Vietnam.

Social/environmental impacts: The project is expected to displace 95,442 people. This includes 10 different ethnic groups, of which Thai people comprise 74%, Kinh (national majority) 11% and the rest are Dao, La Ha, Xa, Kho Mu, Lu, Khang, Si La, Day and hectares Nhi. The population is made up of about 86% rural and 14% urban dwellers. Rural people live mainly on products from forest, farming, gardening, fishing and fishponds. Some of the local people in the project area still practice shifting cultivation, but most of them have stable land to grow annual crops, such as paddy rice, cash crops, or perennial trees. The compensation for farm households will be in terms of land-for-land to maintain agricultural activities among these families. One factor that needs to be taken into account is that Lai Chau town, as planned, will be moved even if the project is not built. The town has suffered seriously from flash floods in recent years.

However, the movement of a large amount of people for the project could cause huge impacts in surrounding areas in terms of soil erosion, increased deforestation and social upheaval.

Foreign donors, embassies and non-governmental organisations working in Vietnam’s northwest region have expressed concern that the full social impacts of the project have not been taken into proper account. (South China Morning Post, June 12, 2001)

The project will flood 9,987 hectares of agricultural land, including rice paddies, gardens and fishponds, 4,460 hectares of forest and 30,255 hectares of other lands. Originally, the priority for choosing resettlement sites was given to the remaining land within Son La and Lai Chau provinces. Many surveys on the available land were conducted. Unfortunately, neither Son La nor Lai Chau has much arable land available for resettlement, therefore only a portion of the displaced people can be relocated within the two provinces. Headmen of displaced villages have been asked whether they would agree to move to the new sites. The majority of affected people would be moved to Ialow, Iamo, Easoup districts in the Central Highlands, where there population density is very low and there is no infrastructure. The main ethnic minority group in those areas is Gia Rai.

There is concern about potential conflicts over resource use and access between those resettled and local residents already living in the Central Highlands. In addition, the differences in climate, livelihood styles and conditions, as well as agricultural practices between people living in the Central Highlands and the northern mountainous area will make it more difficult for the displaced people. The farming system in the northwest area relies on traditional methods and is very different from the intensive agricultural practices used in the Central Highlands.

Moving far away from their ancestral lands will have serious psychological impacts on affected people. Ethnic minority people have long lived in groups. Splitting up communities will destroy social networks that have been built over generations. In addition, ancestral lands and tombs play very critical roles in the lives of Vietnamese people, particularly for ethnic minorities. People do not want to live far from their ancestral gravesites. More importantly, they do not want to disturb their ancestors’ original tombs.

The reservoir area has long been a hometown of Thai people (Black Thai and White Thai), a big ethnic minority group in northern mountainous areas of Vietnam. Thai people have valuable cultural traditions, which have been renowned since French colonial times. Many people raise concerns that construction of the dam would cause destruction of this culture.

It is projected that the reservoir would ensure 34.5 billion m³ for agricultural activities in Northern delta. However, many experts say that the number is overstated.

Other concerns: The project is located in a seismically active region. The government has requested more comprehensive studies of the earth’s crust, and assessment of the danger of future earthquakes. (Saigon Today, Feb. 24, 2001)


Project description: The project is expected to generate 300-MW of power for Ho Chi Minh city and surrounding provinces. The project will use 2,112 hectares, including 1,900 hectares for the reservoir. An additional 1,376 hectares will be used for land compensation. The project will flood 1,089 hectares of agricultural land and 964 hectares of forests (World Bank, Dec. 1995). 1135 families will be displaced.

Location: Dong Nai River system in Duc Trong district, Lam Dong province. The dams would be located on the mainstream of the Da Nhim River and on one of its most important tributaries, the Da Queyon River, with a canal connecting the two reservoirs.

Status: The World Bank funded the feasibility study, which was completed in 1997. Both the EIA and Resettlement and Rehabilitation Action Plan were conducted by Vietnam Power Investigation and Design Company No. 2 (PIDC2) and C. Lotti &Associati, Rome. The timeframe for construction is 6 years. The construction may start by the end of 2001 or early 2002.

Financing: The estimated cost of the project is US$440 million. JBIC signed an agreement on March 30, 2001 to give US$80 million in Official Development Assistance (ODA) for the project at a special environmental interest rate 0.75%. The proceeds of the loan will be used for procurement of goods and services for the construction of the power plant, related transmission lines and substations and consulting services (bidding assistance, construction supervision, etc.).

In 1994, CIDA paid SNC Lavalin International $300,000 to conduct a feasibility study for the Dai Ninh hydro project and another $652,000 to design the dam in 1996. Earlier this year, the Vietnamese government announced its decision to go ahead with this US$300 million hydro dam while the two reports conducted by SNC-Lavalin for Dai Ninh remain secret.

Probe International submitted an Access to Information request for the Dai Ninh feasibility study in 1996 but CIDA replied that it was “not in a position to release the documents relating to [our] request as the records are protected under Section 20 (1) (b) of the Act.” When Probe phoned CIDA for an explanation, CIDA informed them that SNC-Lavalin had objected to CIDA’s disclosure of the study, citing this section of the Access to Information Act. (Probe International report, June 2001,

Social/environmental impacts: According to Probe International, Dai Ninh would forcibly displace up to 14,000 people and directly affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of rural Vietnamese who are already very poor. None of the project plans are available for public review in Vietnam nor have the people whose resources and livelihoods would be directly affected by Dai Ninh been adequately informed or consulted. The World Bank declined support for Dai Ninh in 1998, citing inadequate resettlement planning. (Probe International report, June 2001)

The project was chosen over two other options offering better cost/benefit ratios because it would resettle the least number of people. 1,101 families (or 6,085 people) would be affected by the reservoir, of which 67% belong to local ethnic minorities (K’ho, Churu, and Chil in Upland area; K’ho, Churu, Cham, and Raglai in Coastal area); 33% are Kinh people and mostly in the upland area. Compensation will be provided using a “land-for-land” arrangement. Thus, the estimate of financial costs does not include the value of the land either directly affected by the project or used as replacement land. Rehabilitation, resettlement and compensation costs are estimated at 4.15% of the project’s total cost (about US$18.4 million). Affected families will be resettled in Duc Trong and Bac Binh districts. According to the World Bank report, no serious problems with resettlement are expected since people are supposed to receive land-for-land compensation, as well as compensation for lost houses, crops and other properties. Displaced people are also supposed to receive compensation for moving and tomb removal costs and allowances for resettlement and fertilizer.

According to the project’s EIA, the reservoirs will impact water quality. Water temperature stratification will occur in the lake. However, according to the standards of the Epidemic and Hygiene Institute of Vietnam, the reservoir water will remain acceptable for domestic, agricultural and industrial uses.

The World Bank final report states that other negative impacts may include pollution of the reservoir water by industries and agricultural activities. However, the report states that there are no serious environmental problems within the catchment area that will threaten the long-term sustainability of the Dai Ninh hydropower project. If the authorities follow the existing policy of maintaining 70% forest cover, and 30% annual and other use and existing soil conservation practices continue, they predict that there should be no problems maintaining the hydropower project for the next hundred years.


Project description: This scheme is part of the Master Plan on Dong Nai River and Surrounding Basin Water Resources Development financed by JBIC. The 116.4m Dong Nai 3 Dam would generate 250-MW and flood an area of 53.5 km². The 90.5m Dong Nai 4 Dam would generate 286-MW and the reservoir area would be 9.2 km². (Polet, Gert, 1999

Location: Dong Nai River. Both dams would be located in the middle reaches of the Dong Nai River. Lam Dong province (South Vietnam).

Status: The feasibility study was completed by Nippon Koei and TEPSCO in March 2000. An overall EIA was also carried out by Nippon Koei Co. Ltd. Two environmental studies were commissioned by JBIC to study the hydrology of wetlands downstream in Cat Tien National Park and investigate the ecosystems at the dam and reservoir sites as well as further downstream impacts.

Financing: Japan funded the Master Plan for Dong Nai River and feasibility studies for the two projects. Financing for construction is expected to come from JBIC.

Social/environmental impacts: Both Dong Nai 3 and Dong Nai 4 will flood valuable lands used for coffee plantations and a rare type of rainforest home to wildlife such as Tiger Panthera tigris, Clouded Leopard, Javan Rhino, Otters and Orange-necked Partridge etc. (Polet, Gert, 1999). There is also the possibility that the Dong Nai 3 and Dong Nai 4 scheme would cause impacts on wetlands of the Cat Tien National Park and its waterfowl populations. It is estimated that 5,000 people would be displaced.


Project description: The project is expected to generate 120-MW (Power in Asia 323, March 2001). Dam 65m high and 745m long. Reservoir: 8,000 hectares. 1,197 hectares cultivated land and 5,690 hectares forest will be flooded. (World Bank report, 1993)

Location: Dak Po Ko River, tributary of the Se San River, in Kon Tum province, Central Highlands.

Status: The Feasibility study was conducted by the Mekong Secretariat Committee in 1990, then by the Vietnam Power Investigation and Design Company No. 1 (PIDC1) in 1993.

Financing: The estimated cost is US$256 million. Russia agreed to lend US$100 million for the project as Official Development Assistance (ODA) with the remaining project cost to be financed by local sources. (Saigon Times daily, Aug. 2000)

Social/environmental impacts: The reservoir will displace 130 families in a densely populated area. The project increases pressure on the environment of the catchment area (Electrowatt, 1993). There are also some concerns about wildlife since the project would be located near the Mom Ray nature reserve.


Project description: The project is expected to generate 72-MW, irrigate 4,800 hectares of arable land in Loc Ninh District and supply more than 350,000 m³ of water a day for Binh Phuoc, Binh Duong provinces and Ho Chi Minh City. The reservoir will flood 34 km². This is the country’s first domestic BOT (build-operate-transfer) hydropower project and will run in the BOT form for 25 years.

Location: Be River in Loc Ninh and Phuoc Long districts of the southern Binh Phuoc Province, South Vietnam.

Status: The feasibility study was carried out by the Vietnam Power Investigation and Design Company No. 2 (PIDC2) in 1995. Construction began on May 4, 2001 by Song Da Construction Corp. The Can Don power plant is scheduled to be completed within three years.

Financing: The estimated cost is US$86 million. This is a domestically funded project. It will cost government-owned banks (and the government) approximately $3.2 million per year.

Social/environmental impacts: N/A


Project description: This project is designed for irrigation, flood control and drinking water supply. The reservoir storage capacity is 146 million m³. It is expected to help increase water level in the existing lower Yasup reservoir (RDC,1994,p.I). Turbines may be installed later to generate electricity.

Location: Ea Sup River, a tributary of the Ea H’leo, in Ea Sup district, Daklak province, Central Highlands.

Status: Construction started on May 12, 2001 and is expected to take 3 years to complete.

Financing: Estimated cost VND355 billion (US$24,482,759). The project will be financed by the government.

Social/environmental impacts: More than 8,000 hectares of deciduous forest will be turned into agricultural land, displacing many people (Vietnam News May 12, 2001). No villages will be flooded for the project but the conversion of forest and habitat loss will cause serious impacts to livelihoods and lifestyle of the local people, since now they are mainly subsisting on forest products. In addition, moving people from the low land area of Vietnam to the highlands may cause serious conflict. Agricultural residues may also lead to water contamination in the area.


Project description: The project is being built in two stages. In the first stage, the project will be built to provide water supply and flood control. The reservoir is projected to irrigate 12,281 hectares of rice paddy and 1,600 hectares of cereal crops in the dry area surrounding the reservoir. 30 cm to 40 cm of flood inundation water level reduction is expected. In stage 2, turbines will be installed to generate 74-MW of hydropower. Electricity from Rao Quan may be partly exported to Laos. The catchment area is 159 km². (Electricity of Vietnam, 2000)

Location: Thach Han River, in the Rao Quan Valley, Quang Tri province, about 40 miles from Dong Ha and 16 miles from the Laos border.

Status: Quang Tri province gives very high priority to this project. The feasibility study was conducted by the Norwegian company Norconsult in 1994. An environmental impact assessment is included in the feasibility study. Construction is expected to start in early 2002. (Saigon Times, Jan. 9, 2001)

Financing: The estimated cost is $140 million. China has promised to provide financing for this project (Saigon Times, Feb. 14, 2001).

Social/environmental impacts: 286 households would be resettled.


Project description: This project is expected to generate 250-MW. The reservoir would flood an area of 108.5 km².

Location: Lo – Gam River, in Ha Tuyen province, northern Vietnam.

Status: In early 2001, Electricity of Vietnam decided to start working on the rehabilitation and resettlement plan.

Financing: The estimated cost is US$518 million (Norconsult, 1994). JBIC agreed to provide financing for the construction.

Social/environmental impacts: The reservoir would flood nature reserve land, buffer zones, residential and cultivated lands. About 3,000 families would be displaced. 500 hectares out of 5,000 hectares of the Tonkin Snub-nosed monkey habitat would be flooded. This is a highly populated area, so land for those displaced will likely be located in the surrounding areas, since most fertile paddy fields will be flooded. There is serious potential for conflict among local residents and resettlers over access to land and other resources.


Project description: The reservoir would cover 717 km². It is projected to supply water for 34,780 hectares along the river, control floods, as well as improve the supply of fresh water to Hue city.

Location: The dam would be located in left branch of the Huong River, Hue city.

Status: The feasibility study was conducted by the Vietnamese government. At present, JBIC is considering giving financing for a TA to help formulate the project.

Financing: The estimated cost is US$ 220 million. The Vietnamese government has requested financial assistance from JBIC.

Social/environmental impacts: N/A

10. SE SAN 3

Project description: The project is projected to generate 273-MW of electricity. Storage capacity is 162 million m³. Reservoir is 6.4 km². The dam will be 73m high.

Location: Se San River, 20 km downstream from Yali Falls Dam. The dam would be located in Gia Lai and Kon Tum provinces.

Status: The project was approved by the Ministry of Investment and Planning and Prime Minister Phan Van Khai on July 24, 2001. Construction will take five years, and the project is expected to be fully completed in early 2007.

Financing: The project was originally slated for Asian Development Bank assistance. However, in October 2000 the ADB announced that the Vietnamese government had withdrawn its request for financing, because it did not want to undertake additional social and environmental studies. The government now states that the project’s estimated cost of US$264 million will come from the state budget.

Social/environmental impacts: Impacts on displaced people and downstream communities. Possible cumulative impacts due to its location 20 km downstream from Yali Falls Dam.

11. SE SAN 4

Project description: The dam is projected to generate 255-MW of electricity. It would be located 50 km downstream of the Se San 3 dam site. It is the furthest project downstream on the Se San River in Vietnam. The dam will be 60m high. The reservoir is 54 km².

Location: Se San River in Gia Lai and Kon Tum provinces

Status: The Prime Minister has recently approved the project. More studies regarding the resettlement plan are required to be completed.

Financing: The estimated cost is US$252 million.

Social/environmental impacts: The forest in the area is quite rich. People here grow rice, coffee and cash crops. The main staple crops are upland rice, maize, and beans. Recently, many families started to grow coffee, rubber and sugar cane. Villagers along the river catch fish for their subsistence needs. It is estimated that 1,021 ethnic Jarai people would be displaced.


Project description: Installed capacity is 210-MW. The proposed dam would be located 110 km upstream of the Yali Fall dam. It is the uppermost dam planned on the Se San River. The reservoir area would be 14 km².

Location: The dam site would be located in the Thoung Poko River, a tributary of the Se San River, Kon Tum province.

Status: The pre-feasibility study was carried out by PIDC1 and SWECO in 1993. In July 2001, the Prime Minister approved the project as a part of the hydropower plan along the Se San River.

Financing: The estimated cost is US$ 276 million.

Social/environmental impacts: The reservoir has a rich diversity of native species. There are some endangered species in the area, such as the Gibbon, Tiger and Cervus unicolor. 34 species of fish have been recorded in the river at Kon Tum province. The reservoir would destroy aquatic habitats along approximately 30 km of main and side streams. It would also change downstream aquatic and riparian habitats. According to PIDC1 (1997), about 909 ethnic Xedan people would be displaced. There is also concern about the project’s potential impacts on water quality. Although people in the area cultivate irrigated rice-field, forests play a very crucial role in their life. It is not only a part of their culture, but also a main source of their food when crops fail.

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