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Vietnam: Remote communes switch on and tune in
[June 20, 2006]

Vietnam: Remote communes switch on and tune in

(Thai Press Reports Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Section: Regional News - Special efforts by Electricity of has enabled the Mong ethnic minority people in the remote Xim Vang Commune to switch on their first 21-inch television set recently.

For the very first time, the commune in Bac Yen District in the northern mountainous province of Son La saw National Assembly delegates discussing matters of national importance in a live broadcast.

They can now also watch their favourite football team playing in the FIFA Soccer World Cup 2006.

Electricity of has paid special attention to Son La and five other north-western provinces to satisfy their demand for electricity to boost production and their living standards.

According to a plan approved by the Ministry of Industry, a total investment of VND8.4 trillion is required for development of the electricity network in the region. Of this, VND4.6 trillion would be spent between 2004 and 2010, and VND3.8 trillion in the 2011-2020 stage.

Hoang Trong Nam, Director of the Son La Electricity Department, said that the department recently used capital from a number of sources to invest in installing electricity grids in remote, isolated and extremely poor areas.

So far, the province has supplied electricity to 200 of its 201 communes and wards, and 74 per cent of residents have access to the national electricity grid.

All communes and towns in Bac Yen District and more than 60 per cent of all its households have access to electricity.

"Although our investment was VND2.5 billion only to bring electricity to a commune as remote as Xim Vang, the electricity workers made great efforts, with great determination," Nam said. "Problems with the weather, climate, traffic, communications and terrain were all overcome and so, finally, electricity has reached people in that extremely poor commune." Son La is considered the leading province among other mountainous localities for supplying electricity to the countryside and managing electricity in its rural areas.

The Electricity Department sells electricity directly to households in the province at a lower rate than the Government-regulated floor price of VND700 per kW per hour.

The provincial Electricity Department was also the first unit in the national electricity sector to sell electricity to serve the construction of hydro-electric installations.

For example, the provincial electricity sector completed constructions to supply electricity to 526 households in three resettlement areas in Na Nhung, Muong Bu and Chieng Bang districts, necessitated by construction of the Son La hydro-electricity plant. The sector is also building electricity-supply constructions in 11 resettlement areas in the four districts of Thuan Chau, Mai Son, Muong La and Quynh Nhai. Work is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Nam said that in order to supply electricity to the more than 13,000 households that had to be removed to allow construction of the Son La hydro-electricity plant, the sector would have to invest in a huge construction effort that included utilising 632km of mid-voltage wires, 208 transformer stations and 624km of low-voltage wires. - VNS

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