Mindoro governor stops hydro plant construction

by Robert A. Evora – June 23, 2016 at 12:01 am

from Manila Standard Today

CALAPAN CITY—Oriental Mindoro Gov. Alfonso V. Umali Jr. suspended on Wednesday the ongoing construction of a P1.2-billion hydro-electric power project for lack of required permits to conduct blasting and tunneling operations.

Residents, including the Mangyan communities in the towns of Naujan, Victoria and Baco, hemming in the more than 3,000-hectare project site of the Sta. Clara Power Corp., have earlier complained of a series of loud explosions caused by dynamite blasting in the area.

Mangyan leader Segundo Salimbayan decried the loud explosions are often heard regularly from the project side. While Lilia Tan, 42, of Barangay Arangin, said the blasts terrified the people and that during the onslaught of Typhoon “Nona,” plants and animals died because of the silt.

The blasting, excavation and other earthmoving operations will make way for a 3.2-kilometer tunnel for SCPC’s eight-megawatt Lower Catuiran Mini-Hydro Power Project in Barangay Malvar, in Naujan municipality.

In its own report, cited by provincial officials, SCPC geologists claimed “only 42,000 cubic meters of gravel, rocks, sand, muds and other forms of silts (banlik) flowed out from the tunnel at the height of supertyphoon Nona while a total amount of 13 million cubic meters of silts came down from the adjoining mountains and hills.”

The SCPC is a subsidiary of the Sta. Clara International Corp., which is undertaking the construction of the power project that started three years ago in 2013.

Remegia de Chavez, of Barangay Masagana, Naujan, said she lost eight cows when the cattles drowned in floodwaters mixed with sand, gravel, muds and rocks. “This is the first time that the flood contained stones, sands and mud,” she said.