Friday, November 13, 2009

Opposition parties’ lawmakers ramp up to defeat Four Rivers Restoration Project budget

DLP Lawmaker Woo Wi-yeong calls it the worst civil engineering project ever, and DP lawmakers prepare legal actions to suspend construction

The Hankyoreh Posted on : Nov.10,2009 12:06 KST

Opposition parties’ lawmakers, who have been demanding the termination of the “Four Rivers Restoration Project” that the Lee administration announced will begin Tuesday, are calling the project a dictatorial scam and have launched a full-scale campaign to suspend construction, including filing for an injunction. Moreover, opponents to the Four Rivers Restoration Project have agreed on a plan to cut the entire 23 trillion Won budget for the project with the exception of the 1 trillion Won earmarked for water quality improvement.  

Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Chung Sye-kyun slammed the Lee administration during a party supreme council meeting Monday, and said he was enraged that the administration’s dictatorial behavior was manifesting in pet projects such as this one. He added the administration has questioned why the public refers to it as a “dictatorship,” but the label is fitting when it decides to move forward unilaterally as it is doing now.

Chung said the administration had not conducted a proper feasibility study or a cultural properties study, and it conducted a slap-dash environmental impact assessment on the 634-kilometer area, completing it in just four months with unconvincing findings. He also said that the parliamentary screening of the budget put fourth by the administration has yet to begin, and that it is intorelable that the administration has commenced construction for the Four Rivers Restoration Project based on the assumption that the National Assembly will be passing the budget bill in its original form.

The DP is also actively considering filing an administrative suit or applying for a provisional disposition to suspend the project, which is suspected of being the “Grand Canal” project in disguise. During the party’s supreme council discussion on the Four Rivers Restoration Project, Lawmaker Park Ju-seon provided the argument that it violates the National Finance Law, the Rivers Law, the Basic Law on Environmental Policy and the Korea Water Resources Corporation Law.

The DP is also warning of a “budget struggle” in an attempt to cut the Four Rivers Restoration Project budget. An official connected to the party’s parliamentary leadership said the DP’s position is that it cannot allow the 23 trillion Won earmarked for the project, with the exception of the 1 trillion Won for flood damage and water quality improvement.

In a statement Monday, Woo Wi-yeong, spokesperson for the Democratic Labor Party, called the Four Rivers Restoration Project the worst civil engineering project since the time of Dangun, as well as the greatest scam. He said the arrogance and go-it-alone tendencies of the administration that is pushing forward with project construction, regards the project as an established fact, and believes it can hush up any further debate on the matter has come to a dangerous place.

We cannot bear the responsibility of allowing the destruction of the four great rivers

[Editorial] We cannot bear the responsibility of allowing the destruction of the four great rivers

The Hankyoreh
Posted on : Nov.10,2009 12:04 KST Modified on : Nov.10,2009 12:06 KST

The Four Rivers Restoration Project begins in earnest today. The construction is to begin immediately, after seemingly waiting for the findings of the Ministry of Environment‘s (MOE) environmental impact assessment. All sorts of concerns about reductions in water quality and destruction of the environment were completely ignored. It appears it is impossible to hope for any more rational discussion with an administration that remains obstinate about pushing the project.

Just imagining the effects of executing the Four Rivers Restoration Project as planned is horrible. Instead of flowing, river water will rot as it is trapped behind dams and weirs, while the wildlife growing on the riverbanks will die under dikes of concrete. Most of the aquatic ecology will be destroyed as river floors are dredged, and it is clear that the terrace land by the four rivers will be suffocated underneath cement as 1,700 kilometers of bicycle routes are built. Indiscriminate developmentalists are mangling our four main rivers, the Han, Nakdong, Guem and the Youngsan, which should be wholly preserved and bequeathed to our descendants.

The greatest responsibility for the Four Rivers Restoration Project coming to this point lays with President Lee Myung-bak. He is using his success with the Cheonggyecheon restoration project accomplished during his time as Seoul mayor to push forward this project. The restoration of the Cheonggyecheon, no more than a neighborhood stream, and the restoration of the four great rivers that feed the lands of southern Korea, are incomparable matters. The aim to complete this project that will cost taxpayers an estimated 20 trillion Won in just two to three years is nothing more than an act of greed intent on achieving a project of scale during his term. The four rivers are about to be destroyed as a result of President Lee’s egoism that stems from ignorance about the environment.

Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Chung Jong-hwan and Environment Minister Lee Maan-ee will be unable to escape historical responsibility as accessories to the destruction of the four rivers. Chung, who styles himself a “Little MB” to a sickening extent, has been pushing the Four Rivers Restoration Project using all sorts of expedients and illegalities. In particular, Lee, by tacitly approving the environmental destruction caused by the Four Rivers project, has abandoned his role as Environment Minister. He will be recorded as a blot on South Korea’s history of environmental policy.

At any rate, construction for the Four Rivers Restoration Project commences today. It will soon be revealed just how much the four rivers will be destroyed as a result. We cannot just standby and watch it happen. To do so is ultimately no different than participating in the destruction of the four rivers. For this reason, just as the full-scale launch of the Four Rivers Restoration Project takes place today, so must the launch of a full-scale fight to save our four great rivers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

South Korea approved 11 new coastal reclamation projects

The government of South Korea approved 11 new coastal wetlands reclamation projects on November 9th. 1,058,000㎡ of coastal wetlands will be reclaimed to provide lands to renewable energy project, shipbuilding industry, port redevelopment, road construction, etc.

As you can see from the table above, some of the public waters and coastal wetlands will be reclaimed to provide lands for private investors and developers such as shipbuilding and energy companies. Because they can possess the land formed by reclaiming public waters and tidal flats, many South Korean companies want to reclaim coastal areas for their own economic benefits.

The natural environment of the Garorim Bay will be affected severely due to the new reclamation project linked to the Garorim Bay Tidal Power Project, especially on tidal flats of 8,000 ha in the bay.

The problem is that such a destructive energy project is promoted by the South Korean government in the name of it's Green Growth National Vision. (

South Korea was the host country of the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Wetlands, last year. The Resolution X.22 'Promoting international cooperation for the conservation of waterbird flyways' was adopted at the Ramsar COP10 which states that the Conference of the Contracting Parties "WELCOMES the statement by the Republic of Korea to the 35th meeting of Ramsar’s Standing Committee that intertidal mudflats should be preserved and that no large-scale reclamation projects are now being approved in the Republic of Korea, and ENCOURAGES all Contracting Parties in their efforts to protect such habitats in future and to monitor them and mitigate any past development impacts on or losses to them".

The government of South Korea approved 11 coastal wetland reclamation projects of 8.1㎢ in March this year and approved 11 new reclamation projects of 1.06㎢ again, the day before yesterday. It is hard to believe that South Korean government is following its own statement and the resolutions of the Ramsar Convention.

Such destructive reclamation projects should be stopped in a country with Green Growth National Vision.