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Man spends 15 years on hydropower islet

Forest guard Mai Van Hoa has resided amid a hydropower project in central Quang Nam Province for well over a decade.

Mai Van Hao, 61, has lived on the 1.5-hectare islet at the heart of Khe Dien hydropower reservoir since 2003, three years before the investor blocked Nong Son River for construction in Que Ninh Commune, Nong Son District.

Forest guard Mai Van Hoa, 15 years, hydropower islet, hydropower project, three-room wooden house, forest protection initiatives

Mai Van Hao, 61, has lived on the 1.5-hectare islet at the heart of Khe Dien hydropower reservoir since 2003.

"When the hydropower dam was built, my home turned into an islet, but I’m used to living here and didn’t want to move," Hao said.

His three-room wooden house is surrounded by a forest and lies in Nong Son District Elephant and Species Conservation Zone. Mai Van Duong, its vice director, said authorities used to conduct frequent raids to remove illegally established tents in the zone.

But Hao was spared since he resided here before the project commenced, often collaborating in forest protection initiatives.

Forest guard Mai Van Hoa, 15 years, hydropower islet, hydropower project, three-room wooden house, forest protection initiatives

His three-room wooden house is surrounded by a forest and lies in Nong Son District Elephant and Species Conservation Zone.

Hao traveled 928 kilometers from his hometown in Dai Tu District in the northern Thai Nguyen Province to Phuoc Son District in Quang Nam to dig gold in 1999. His wife and three children still live in Dai Tu. After a few futile years, he planned to return home but an unfortunate personal event made him decide otherwise.

Following a friend’s advice, he moved to Que Ninh Commune in Nong Son District, putting up a tent along a ridge from where he started to fish and isolate himself from the outside world.

Forest guard Mai Van Hoa, 15 years, hydropower islet, hydropower project, three-room wooden house, forest protection initiatives

Each day, Hao takes out his boat to hunt eel.

The islet on which Hao lives is less than a kilometer from Dong Truong Son road, accessible only by boat. Two dry months each year force Hao to walk about two kilometers to circumvent the lake.

"Management has not been able to establish a forest monitoring checkpoint at the lake, so we asked Hao to see to patrols. When he discovers anything amiss, he immediately informs authorities," Duong said.

Three years ago, Hao befriended Mai Thi Ba, 56, who decided to move in. The couple has to place their phones in a box attached to the single communications tower on the islet to catch a signal.

Each day, Hao takes out his boat to hunt eel. "Some days, when I’m lucky, I can earn millions of dong from fishing," he said.

Forest guard Mai Van Hoa, 15 years, hydropower islet, hydropower project, three-room wooden house, forest protection initiatives

Hao and Ba rear chickens for extra sustenance.

Hao and Ba rear chickens for extra sustenance. Once or twice a month, Hao goes to buy fish sauce, salt and vegetables. They have a generator to provide electricity at night.

"In recent years, my children who are now grownups and have settled down told me to come home but I said no because I’m used to living in the middle of the lake," Hao said, adding he would stay put until the management board told him otherwise.

"If I have to move, I would still stay close by," he said.

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Source: VnExpress

Forest guard Mai Van Hoa, 15 years, hydropower islet, hydropower project, three-room wooden house, forest protection initiatives
 
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