Gov’t grabs back construction on Nakdong River
The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs formally notified the South Gyeongsang Provincial Government yesterday that it will directly oversee 13 construction sites to refurbish the Nakdong River, taking away control from the province.
“We have come to the conclusion that construction will not be carried out at a proper level should it be done by the provincial government as it has been dragging the construction process,” said Lee Jae-bung, deputy head of the ministry’s four-rivers restoration project headquarters.
The battle over the Nakdong is part of the broader war over President Lee Myung-bak’s four-rivers restoration project.
The government launched the 22 trillion won ($19 billion) project last November to clean and refurbish four rivers - the Han, Nakdong, Geum, and Yeongsan - in a bid to help prevent floods and attract tourists. Although the central government holds the authority to restore rivers, it handed over some development rights to provincial governments.
Of the 170 construction sites along the four rivers, provincial governments were in charge of 54 of them. South Gyeongsang is in charge of 13 of its 54 sites.
The four-rivers restoration project, however, is a hot potato issue in the perennial contest between conservatives, like the president, and the liberals, who are in opposition nationally. Opponents say the project will devastate the environment and is a warmed up version of Lee’s presidential election campaign promise to build a grand canal through the country.
The opposition took control of the South Gyeongsang government in the June local elections, and its new governor, Kim Du-gwan, said he was against the project on principle but would carry out projects as long as they didn’t harm the environment.
But construction on the Nakdong River has been slow. The ministry said only 16.8 percent of the work has been made on the Nakdong, which falls behind an average of 32.3 percent for all four rivers.
The dispute will likely end up in the courts. South Gyeongsang said immediately after the ministry’s announcement that “it will take the matter to court if the central government cancels [the South Gyeongsang government’s] rights.”
“We have gone through legal issues already,” said ministry official. “There is no problem in canceling the rights that we have formerly given to the regional government.”
Based on the country’s law, the central government can cancel the contract agreement if its counterparts fail to fulfill the responsibility that were discussed, the official said.
By Lee Eun-joo [email@example.com]
정부 ‘사업권 회수’ 배경과 파장
전면전 양상이다. 4대 강 사업 낙동강 구간을 둘러싸고서다. 국토해양부가 경남도와 맺은 4대 강 사업 대행협약을 15일자로 해제하면서 두 기관이 정면충돌하고 있다.
갈등은 4대 강 사업 반대를 공약으로 내건 김두관 경남지사가 당선된 6월 지방선거 직후부터 불거졌다. 이후 “사업 의지가 없으면 사업권을 반환하라”는 국토부의 공문으로 갈등이 표면화됐다. 이번에 국토부가 사업권 회수라는 마지막 칼을 빼들면서 돌아올 수 없는 강을 건넌 것이다. 양쪽의 다툼은 법정으로 이어질 전망이다. 결국 최종 판단은 법원에 넘겨진 것이다.