Wednesday, November 11, 2009

South Korea launches 19 billion dollar river project despite protests

Terra Daily via Agence France-Presse: South Korea on Tuesday launched a 19 billion dollar project to dredge and restore its four major rivers despite protests over the feared environmental impact. Excavators started shifting soil to build temporary dams on two of the rivers after the environment ministry gave the green light following a four-month survey.

Under the plan the Han, Nakdong, Geum and Yeongsan rivers will be dredged, given new banks and equipped with dams along a total length of some 3,200 kilometres (2,000 miles). Prime Minister Chung Un-Chan told a cabinet meeting the three-year programme will mean less water is wasted, will improve water quality and will boost the economy of local provinces.

When completed in December 2012, the government says the rivers will be opened up for transport and tourism and floods and droughts will be controlled. It also hopes the project will create tens of thousands of jobs as the country emerges from the global economic crisis.

Critics say the river project is a recycled plan to build a massive cross-country canal once touted by President Lee Myung-Bak, a former construction CEO nicknamed the "Bulldozer". The canal project was officially scrapped because of widespread objections….

The Yeongsan River at sunset, shot by Byungjoon Kim, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

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