A four rivers planA maintenance project affecting four major rivers starts today, beginning with seven preliminary construction efforts in areas including the Nakdong River/Andong and Yeongsan River/Naju. The purpose of the first seven efforts is not only to refurbish rivers and streams but also to provide a model for the comprehensive project plan, set to be released in May of next year.
Another hidden intention is to move the river work ahead in order to wipe out criticism that it is related to the grand canal project.
We believe it is good to start the river maintenance as soon as possible. There is no reason to postpone the project because it is meant to overcome the current financial crisis and restore the sluggish local economy. When the goal is to stimulate the local economy and create jobs with state funds, the project’s effects will only be far-reaching if work begins as soon as reasonably possible.
However, the project shouldn’t be carried out hastily. Creating jobs must not be the primary and only goal of a large-scale state project. Even though we are in an urgent situation, the people must be persuaded of the necessity of spending 14 trillion won ($10.56 billion) in taxpayer money.
Therefore, the first projects must be limited to basic river maintenance, which will be the same regardless of the final plan. The government must concentrate its energy and resources on creating a comprehensive and detailed blueprint to develop the rivers.
In a briefing at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on Saturday, President Lee Myung-bak said that the government must not approach river maintenance as a civil engineering project. He ordered that all ministries must work together to draw a future-oriented blueprint to meet the goal of environmentally friendly green development.
The president is right. The question is how to make it come true. The four rivers project is foremost a civil engineering project aimed at preventing flood damage and drought. If other factors, such as the environment, culture, science and technology and tourism, are to be taken into consideration, a civil engineering approach is not enough.
Experts from different areas must work together and make a plan, taking into account the direction of the country’s long-term development.
We hope that the government will form a task force to supervise the development of the four major rivers and present a plan that the people can agree with.