[EDITORIALS]Discord costing trillionsDiscord has risen again regarding the construction of a tunnel through Mount Cheongseong, South Gyeongsang province. Officials from environmental groups appointed to conduct an environmental investigation of the construction project have boycotted their investigation following remarks made by officials from the Korea Rail Network Authority and the Blue House.
One has to worry whether the boycott of an investigation that took place after much debate will become a catalyst for obstructing the construction process of the tunnel.
The investigation was the result of an agreement between the government and environmental groups, after a prominent Buddhist nun, who opposed construction of the tunnel, broke her hunger strike after 100 days in February. Starting in August of last year, the investigation had been concluded and a report was scheduled to come out at the end of next month. Remarks made by officials at the network authority that no significant environmental threat was posed by the tunnel construction and thus the construction would resume caused the current conflict.
The environmental groups are arguing that such comments obstruct the fairness of the environmental investigation and are now threatening that if a responsible official of the network authority does not explain the remarks and issue an apology, they will boycott the environmental impact explanation.
The tunnel is an example of how a national project has been stalled due to environmental concerns. Since the start of the project in 2002, due to opposition by environmental groups and the Buddhist nun, construction has been halted three times, bringing the total construction progress to only 13.2 percent.
One has to question whether the remarks made by the officials justify the environmental groups boycott of the investigation.
If an appropriate explanation and apology is given, the conflict should be resolved; if not, there will be criticism the environmental groups are being unreasonable. The network authority also should not agitate environmental groups over such matters.
Including the investigation, delays on the project have caused an economic loss that amounts to 2.5 trillion won ($2.4 billion). That is 7 billion won per day. The absence of a clear government policy have resulted in a huge waste of taxes. The tunnel construction should be resumed on Thursday as promised. More pressing is controlling the discord that will come after the results of the environmental investigation have been discussed.