South Korea Nears Completion of Controversial River Rehab
24 May 2012 - 00:00 by OOSKAnews Correspondent
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s controversial $18 billion USD project to revive the country’s four key rivers while fostering sustainable power and farming will be completed this year, according to the project’s environmental administrator, Cha Yoon-jung.
The Four Rivers Project set out to reshape and revive parts of four of South Korea’s biggest rivers -- the Han in the northwest, the Nakdong in the southeast, the Geum in the west and the Yeongsan in the southwest.
The project is the largest pursued by President Lee Myung-bak, who has been nicknamed the “bulldozer” since he ran Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co.
Among other measures, the restoration has meant construction of 20 new dams and dredging of almost 700 kilometers of river to a depth of six meters.
Building numerous sewage treatment plants and eradicating local, pollution-spewing farms will boost local river water quality, the government says.
Purifying the rivers, which have been dogged by pollution for decades, resembles cleaning the arteries of a person suffering from arteriosclerosis, Cha was quoted as saying by Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News.
Both Paraguay and Turkey are reportedly eager to learn from the project’s apparent success, despite the sharp criticism it has received.
In the past, opponents have branded the Four Rivers Project a “money pit” and a “lavish political venture.”
They called for an end to construction of giant river barrages, dams and bike roads.
The government insists that the public mood toward the project has been growing more positive.
The Korea Herald quoted the boss of Korea’s Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, Shim Myung-pil, as saying: “The project has often been misrepresented as a political ploy.”
Technical discussion, not dogmatic squabbling, was the way ahead, Shim said.