Updated November. 09, 2009 08:49
President Lee Myung-baks project to restore the countrys four major rivers will finally begin this week with the construction of 15 dams to start Tuesday.
The venture has long faced resistance from opposition parties but is set to proceed this week. With the completion of the government assessment of the project, operations are expected to be accelerated.
In his 2007 presidential campaign, President Lee had pledged to build a cross-country canal in Korea, but strong resistance from the opposition and a faction in the ruling Grand National Party prompted him to give up the project to prevent dividing public opinion. He then suggested the restoration of the countrys four major rivers.
In a radio address in June, the president said, The project to restore the four major rivers will help Korea secure abundant water resources, improve water quality, and restore the ecosystem and culture. If the added value of the rivers is raised, the project will generate far more value.
Since his inauguration, the government, especially the Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Ministry, has sought to pursue the project. Regardless of faction, ruling party lawmakers have also supported it. Accordingly, the government yesterday finally announced the results of its environmental impact assessment and a start to the construction of 15 dams.
The project is considered the beginning and foundation of the governments green growth campaign. The plan is to create 340,000 jobs and generate an economic effect exceeding 40 trillion won (34 billion U.S. dollars) by injecting 22.2 trillion won (19 billion dollars) over three years into green industries.
Many obstacles remain, however, before the project can take firm root. First, the required funds need to be secured under a budget review process to begin Thursday. The main opposition Democratic Party and other opposition parties seek to significantly cut the budget for the project.
Other critics of the river restoration even say land compensation could pose a serious threat to the project.