Dam safety hot topic in Vietnam Assembly’s Q&A session

HA NOI (VNS)– The reservoir of quake-hit Tranh River Hydroelectricity Plant 2 in Quang Nam Province will stay empty until scientists have confirmed the dam's safety, the Minister of Construction Trinh Dinh Dung said this morning.

Human safety was the top concern and priority of the Government, he said during the Q&A session at the National Assembly today.

As part of the examination, international geologists from Russia, India and Japan would be invited to help evaluate the earthquake situation in the area.

Dung was responding to a question on the dam's safety from Deputy Ngo Van Minh, of central Quang Nam Province.

Minh had asked why the reservoir was left empty this year after an official announcement that the dam was technically safe and could deal with an earthquake magnitude of up to 5.5 on the Richter Scale.

"The decision had made local residents confused and worried," Minh said.

He called for a clear statement from the leader of the ministry directly in charge of construction quality.

In response, Construction Minister Dung said: "At present, the dam is safe enough for residents in surrounding areas to stay put."

So far, many earthquake and tremors had been recorded at the hydropower plant but their strength were less than magnitude 5.5 as estimated by the Institute of Geophysics.

Another hot issue in the Q&A session was the alleged misuse of more than VND10.6 trillion (US$509.6 million) by Song Da Group, a State-owned corporation under the ministry's management, which was uncovered last year by the Government Inspectorate.

Chief of Government Inspectors Huynh Phong Tranh yesterday said the group's violations were mainly related to capital management, lack of reserve fund and delay in paying tax.

Tranh said the ministry and the group were being constructive in fixing the violations but detailed responsibility of individuals or organizations had yet to be determined.

Responding to a question about bad debts in other State-owned construction groups, received from Deputy Le Nhu Tien, of central Quang Tri Province, Dung said many enterprises in the sector were facing difficulties, as were enterprises in other sectors.

The ministry was reviewing the bad debt situation and seeking solutions, which could include restructuring enterprises, developing key products and improving staff management.

The Q&A session is ongoing this afternoon with Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien and Governor of the State Bank of Viet Nam Nguyen Van Binh in the hot seat. – VNS

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