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Stop reckless development of 4 rivers areas

Posted April. 21, 2011 01:08,   


An enforcement ordinance for a special act on the use of waterfront areas passed the Cabinet Monday and will take effect on April 30, rendering it possible to seek systematic development of areas around the country`s four major rivers. President Lee Myung-bak said Sunday, “Many people have criticized the four-river restoration project but everybody will support it when they see the project completed this fall,” in presenting an optimistic view on the project`s prospects. It is premature to be optimistic over the success of the restoration project, however. Many might like the look of the four rivers after their streamlining and neat development, but not a few people will grow disappointed if they see the rivers lose their natural beauty due to excessively artificial looks. Depending on how Korea can develop and manage areas around the rivers, a general assessment of the restoration project will be significantly affected.

The government enacted the waterfront law to prevent reckless development in areas around the four rivers. People opposed to the restoration project blast the act as a maligned law meant to promote reckless development of areas around the four rivers. It is inevitable, however, to install convenience facilities, tourism and leisure facilities around the four rivers to handle the mass of visitors expected after the project’s completion.

If areas around the rivers are excessively developed, riverside areas could transform into entertainment districts full of bars, restaurants and hotels. Since such facilities will inevitably pollute the rivers, they could damage the very goal of the restoration project. Only when the central government, provincial authorities, Korea Land & Housing Corp. and Korea Water Resources Corp., which have the right to develop waterfront areas, have strong commitment and will can reckless development of areas around the four rivers be prevented.

More than anything, critics say the enforcement ordinance of the waterfront law lacks apparatuses to effectively prevent reckless and disorderly development. The original ordinance included provisions on the designation of “mini waterfront districts” measuring 30,000 square meters or more, or about four times the size of a soccer field, to prevent reckless development. The revised ordinance has seen the provision deleted, however, causing experts to warn of small-scale reckless development.

The Land, Construction and Maritime Affairs Ministry said reckless development can be prevented through laws on land planning and use or advance reviews of eco-friendliness. This argument runs counter, however, to the government’s initial claim that a waterfront law should be enacted because conventional regulations cannot effectively block speculative development projects. The bigger problem is the lack of measure that can efficiently block speculative and reckless development of areas around the four rivers other than sections designated as waterfront districts. This generation must preserve and cultivate the country`s beautiful nature and environment for the benefit of succeeding generations. Nature-friendly development and cultivation of national rivers and mountains to their best conditions are crucial, as this will elevate the value of nature.