Grand Canal on Hold for Smaller Waterway Improvements

    May 22, 2008 09:16

    President Lee Myung-bak on Wednesday announced he wants to postpone his plan for a cross-Korea canal linking all major waterways "because it seems to make people anxious." Lee was speaking on the canal project in a policy briefing by Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province at the North Gyeongsang provincial government building.

    The president apparently wants to put on the back burner plans to connect the Han and Nakdong rivers, the key part in the grand canal project, which has caused controversy about potential environmental damage and economic feasibility. But he still wants to dredge the four largest rivers, improving water quality and restoring waterways for shipping. This suggests he has basically revised the canal project from wholesale to gradual implementation.

    A presidential official said the government “will postpone the construction of a waterway linking the Han River and Nakdong River until later. Instead, it will push for the construction of waterways connecting the Mungyeong-Busan section (Nakdong River), Mokpo-Gwangju section (Yeongsan River) and Seoul-Incheon section first, since these are sections that local governments want and that will incur relatively little opposition."

    The official said the government will set aside a special budget of W15 trillion to 20 trillion (US$1=W1,042) by 2015. It hopes to attract private investment as planned to build terminals and tourist and logistics complexes for those waterway sections.

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