At the point of no return

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At the point of no return

The budget to finance a dam and renovate four major rivers has passed the National Assembly, albeit, in a bloody mayhem.

The final version was scaled back by 270 billion won ($236 million) to 5.46 trillion won. The money will fund the last stage of the construction.

Although the project is still vehemently opposed by the opposition camp and some civilian groups, it has passed the stage of no return. Construction is already 40 percent complete.

The controversial dam work is completed 65 percent and dredging 48 percent. The construction has already passed the point of reversal. The dams that are half-built cannot be left hanging or be dismantled.

We note the latest comment by Cardinal Cheong Jin-suk, Archbishop of Seoul. He clarified that the Catholic bishops are not opposed to the government’s four-rivers project, but he underscored the environmental hazards and construction risks. What they had urged was more environmentally friendly development.

He put his foot down, saying that it is up to scientists to debate the pros and cons of the project, sending a message against wrangling about the project without scientific and engineering intelligence.

He also advised to reserve judgment on the project until it is completed - a message politicians and civilian activists should ponder.

The plan of recreating the four waterways has the support of many. Residents of the nascent regions welcome the project, and the Seoul Civil Court has also upheld the merits of the plan for the Han River system.

Water shortage is a worldwide problem. We are also short of water. The problem, as the cardinal pointed out, is the environmental aspect. The success of the river project does not lie with the dams and neat river bays, but securing a clear water source.

If water is contaminated, the project will be a complete failure and a disaster for the country that demands severe public judgment.

The opposition must focus on ensuring safe and nature-friendly construction. It must keep a close eye on whether nature and water remain unharmed if the opposition has a sincere concern for the country at heart.

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