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Work on 4-river project will kick off tomorrow

Nov 09,2009
The controversial four-river restoration project will begin tomorrow following an announcement that the government-led evaluation of the environmental impact of the project was completed last Friday, according to the Land Ministry yesterday.

The report concludes that the quality of the water in the rivers will have improved on 2006 levels after the project has been completed in 2011, the ministry said.

The impact study was carried out by the National Institute of Environmental Research under the Environment Ministry.

The Land Ministry will begin the project by building 15 reservoirs across the four rivers - the Han, Nakdong, Yeongsan and Geum - and creating waterways by dredging the rivers. A reservoir on the Geum River was started on June 29 as a pilot program for the project.

Construction of four of the reservoirs will get under way on Tuesday. They will be located at Hapcheon, Dalseong and Gumi on the Nakdong River, and Seungchon on the Yeongsan River, the ministry said. The construction of the other 11 reservoirs - three on the Han River, two on the Geum River, five others on the Nakdong and another on the Yeongsan River - will start on Thursday. The construction of 16 reservoirs in total is one of keys to the project, which will cost 22.2 trillion won ($19 billion). The ministry said 1.47 trillion won will be spent building the reservoirs.

The project, aimed at enhancing water flow and the quality of smaller waterways along the four major rivers, is part of the Lee Myung-bak administration’s “Green New Deal” policy.

But some experts and civic groups claim the environmental impact study is inadequate, claiming the Environment Ministry gave approval to the construction work to the Land Ministry less than a week after the Land Ministry submitted the results of the assessment.

“The Environment Ministry has neglected its duty by passing a state project that will have a fatal impact on citizens and the natural environment without taking proper verification procedures,” said Park Ji-seop, head of a civic group against the four-river project.

Opponents have also questioned how the quality of water will improve by 2012 if the Land Ministry had shrunk the budget from 6.6 trillion won in May to 3.9 trillion won in October, while environmentalists have expressed strong concerns about water quality after the project is complete.


By Seo Ji-eun, Moon Gwang-lip [spring@joongang.co.kr]



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