[EDITORIALS]No power play here

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[EDITORIALS]No power play here

For the past six years, the Korea Electric Power Corp. has been moving above-ground power lines to spots beneath the streets, but spending has been found to be uneven depending on where the work was done. The districts that have received less money are upset, and it is natural for them to be asking whether there is any justifiable basis for the discrimination.

KEPCO, as the power utility is known, has spent more than 50 billion won ($38 million) on the project in Seoul since 1996. Two districts south of the Han River, Gangnam and Seocho, have received a third of the total budget allocated for Seoul. Many other districts, including Dongdaemun, Jungnang, Dobong, Eunpyeong and Dongjak, have received nothing.

Moving power lines is an expensive project that not everybody who wants or needs it can have. That is why KEPCO, by its own rule, gives priority to areas where maintenance of the existing power lines is difficult, and where the change would help considerably with the cityscape. If that is the case, it is hard to justify that it was necessarily more urgent to do the moving in affluent districts south of the river.

KEPCO has made some notable changes, including the addition of two major thoroughfares in the Gangnam district, the Samseong-ro and the Hakdong-ro, for the project. During 2000, while carrying out 12 projects in Seoul, the power company had district offices share in the cost of 6 out of 8 projects north of the river, while paying for the entire cost in the four projects south of the river.

So it is not an unreasonable complaint that northern districts are being discriminated against. This comes amid a sense of imbalance surrounding certain high-rent, high-cost southern Seoul districts.

Of course, KEPCO may have its own reasons and difficulties. For example, there is still a long way to go toward the completion of the project. Japan has moved 40 percent of its power lines underground, and Paris and London have taken all power lines and poles off the street. Large buildings that have big power demands may have also pressured the power company to get priority. That there are charges of discrimination surrounding power lines and poles is ludicrous.
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