Dak Lak tourism hit by hydropower needs
Since hydro-power plants were built on the Serepok River, the 20km segment running through Daklak Province – the kingdom of tamed elephants in Vietnam – has dried up, causing problems for the local tourism industry and local people.
The Serepok River at present.
For the Ede ethnic people, to set up a village, the first criterion is close to the source of water. Thus, for centuries, the Serepok River has been an ideal place for settlement.
The Serepok River provides drinking water, irrigation water, and fish to Ede people. The river is also the origin of the traditional rituals such as the water worshiping rite.
However, since 2014 when the Serepok 4A hydropower plant became operational, the lives of the local people have been reversed.
The river has dried up, causing water shortage for hundreds of households in the communes of Ea Wer and Krong Na. The households who earn their living by fishing in the river are unemployed.
Mr. Y Thanh, a resident of Na Ven Hamlet, Ea Wer Commune, Buon Don District, said: "I was born and grew up in this land. For decades I've never seen such intense drought here. Everything lacks water. The vibrant life on this river is now only in our memories. The villagers are very sad and worried because if this situation prolongs, our lives will be affected terribly;"
Y Si That Ksor, Vice Chairman of Buon Don district, said: "By design, when put into operation, hydropower plants will still discharge water at the speed of 135 m3 per second, enough to sustain life in the Serepok River. But in fact the water volume discharged to the environment is too low, less than 10 m3 per second so the majestic Serepok River has gradually become a dead river, whereby the ecosystems are ruined."
Tourism also suffers
A suspension bridge crossing the dried river
Buon Don District is known by local and foreign tourists for its cultural, eco-tourism associated with the river, forests, elephants ... Yet now tourists are disappointed.
"A few years ago, when I went to Buon Don, I was so excited for the gorgeous landscapes of the central highlands. But I’m really shocked this time. I did not imageine that everything here can degrade like this. The river is dried up to the bottom. This place is no longer is a beautiful site," said Ms. Nguyen Xuan Loan, a tourist from HCM City.
Mr. Nguyen Duc, a representative of the Don Village Tourism Center, Saudi previously the number of tourists coming to Don Village was stable. Since the hydropower plants became operational, the local tourism industry has faced a lot of difficulties. The local tourism sector is largely based on the river and the eco-system but the river is no longer full with water as before. Travel firms have repeatedly asked the hydropower plants to discharge more water for the river, but drought keeps taking place.
"I’ve never seen such difficulties for the tourism agencies of Buon Don. The number of tourists fell sharply and the time of stay. Our company's revenue fell more than 50% since hydropower plants in the Serepok River operated. A majority of tourists said they were disappointed because the ecosystem was destroyed and polluted," said Nguyen Thi Thanh Ha, director of a travel company.
Pha Le, VNN