Busan agency continues its push on river rights

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Busan agency continues its push on river rights

The Busan Regional Construction Management Administration officially grabbed the rights yesterday to directly oversee 10 construction sites to refurbish the Nakdong River, taking control from the South Gyeongsang Provincial Government, which has been unenthusiastic about carrying out the four-rivers restoration project.

The Busan administration, under the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, asked the Public Procurement Service earlier this week to transfer control of the Nakdong River project from South Gyeongsang.

Of the 13 total construction sites for the Nakdong River refurbishment plan, the Busan administration easily took control over overseeing 10 sites because the development contracts for the sites were signed between construction companies and the Public Procurement Service. South Gyeongsang was not directly involved in the contracts and had showed a lax attitude toward overseeing the projects.

But it’s unclear whether the Busan administration will succeed in taking two other remaining projects kept by South Gyeongsang.

The Busan administration on Tuesday requested the South Gyeongsang government hand over the contracts for two other construction areas by today because Busan wants to speed up the construction process by overseeing the projects itself.

The Busan administration also requested the Public Procurement Service to start refurbishment on one last construction site that the South Gyeongang government hasn’t started yet.

South Gyeongsang Governor Kim Du-gwan, who’s against President Lee Myung-bak’s four-rivers restoration project, is mulling over whether or not to hand over the development control over other sites to the Busan administration.

South Gyeongsang said earlier this week it will take the matter to court “if the central government cancels [the South Gyeongsang government’s] rights.”

The Busan administration said construction on the Nakdong River has been slow. According to the Land Ministry, only 16.8 percent of the work has been done on the Nakdong, which falls well behind an average of 32.3 percent for all four rivers.

To increase the pace of construction on the Nakdong, the Busan administration said it will set up a task force comprised of government river experts to carry out the work faster.

“Our goal is to get 80 percent of the work done for Nakdong refurbishment by March next year,” said Kim Jeong-hun, a senior official at the Busan administration’s river division.

Meanwhile, minor opposition Democratic Labor Party head Lee Jung-hee yesterday demanded that the Lee administration stop retaking development rights of the Nakdong River from South Gyeongsang Provincial Government.

“The DLP vows to block next year’s budget for bills related to the four-rivers restoration project,” Lee said at a press conference.

Said South Gyeongsang Governor Kim in a meeting with DLP officials: “The four-rivers restoration project cannot top the values of democracy and constitution.”

Four opposition groups plan a rally condemning the decision to take development rights from a regional government this afternoon in Changwon, South Gyeongsang.

By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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