Don’t wash away rivers project

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Don’t wash away rivers project

The dredging and damming of the country’s four major rivers - the Han, Nakdong, Geum and Yeongsan - have now entered the final stage. But the project is not over, and the rainy season is approaching, which could cause damage to the work sites.

According to a government survey of construction areas along the four rivers, 294 orders for corrections were handed down during the first 20 days of April, compared with 57 last year. Many of the orders were delivered with warnings about flooding and other risks. Some of the work along the waterway was done without consideration of the possible problems that could occur during the rainy season.

Earlier this week, levees along the riverbank in the Gumi section in North Gyeongsang gave way, contaminating the water station and cutting off the water supply for several days now. As a result, some of the industrial plants nearby had to be shut down. Some of the plants are said to be considering filing suit against the government for compensation. The incident could have been avoided if dredging had been more thorough in preparation for the accelerated current in the Nakdong River. Last week, levees and small dams broke down when work sites were inundated by heavy rain in Yeoju, Gyeonggi.

If sporadic rain caused so much damage, we are afraid to imagine what the torrential rainy season will do. Dredging deepens the water bed and accelerates the current, which could trigger greater inundation. The government should reinforce protections in the problematic areas and re-examine other sites to prevent further damage and inconveniences to residents.

If the work causes a great deal of damage during the rainy season, public skepticism against the government’s still-controversial project on the nation’s four major rivers is likely to increase. The government should carry out the work thoroughly and meticulously if it does not want to see the entire multibillion-dollar project washed away.

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