Go to contents

One More Hotel per Day

Posted July. 19, 2002 22:12,   


In August of 1999, a Han River Managing Comprehensive Measure (HTMCM) was implemented to protect the Paldang Lake, which is the source of tap water for 20 million people around Seoul. But nothing has been improved due to unregulated developments such as construction of hotels and houses.

On July 19, 2002, the Han River Water Shed Environmental Management Office revealed its report on the developmental status around the Paldang area. According to the report, large housing projects have been constructed not only in the housing zone, but also in the non-housing zone such as mountain area. Moreover, the constructions are unregulated and environment-unfriendly.

Consequently, the annual BOD of the Paldang Lake recorded a meager 1.5ppm in 1999 and 1.4 ppm in 2000 and 2001, remaining as a second-level source of drinking water without satisfying the standard (1.0 ppm or lower). This result is more disappointing considering all the government efforts. The government has designated the upper part of the Paldang Lake and the areas in vicinity as the Protection Area, and poured 250 billion won (approximately 200 million dollar) every year into building up environmental infrastructure.

The number of small establishments engaged in hospitality industry had shot up during 10-year period from 1990 to 2000. In 1990, the number was only 2,819. But in 1995, it rose to 6,730 and, in 2000, reached 10,010, showing a 3.5-time increase.

The increasing trend is also found in the number of construction permits issued in the area designated as the Paldang Special Management Area, which includes Yangpyung, Kwangjoo, Yongin, Yejoo, Namyangjoo and Kapyung. For example, from August to the end of 1999, when the NRMCM was first introduced, the 2,412 permits were issued. In 2000, the cities and counties issued 4,266 permits and, in 2001, 4,191.

Especially, illegal zoning-changes took places in the Greenbelt within the designated area. For example, a permit was originally issued for constructing a farming warehouse. But, in fact, a products storage facility or plastic-manufacturing plant was built. As a result, the unfiltered water from those facilities flow into and contaminate the Paldang Lake.

In addition, in the Protection Area, which lies within 500-1000 m from the Paldang Lake, construction of hospitality businesses such as hotels is not allowed. Nonetheless, large hotels and theme parks are being developed within that area. The constructors are taking advantage of the loophole that exempts villages from those regulations.

A couple of factors contribute to the unregulated development around the Paldang Lake. For example, the local governments have shown a lukewarm determination to police the area. Another problem lies in the lack of relevant statutes regulating the large-scale developments which utilize the loopholes in the system.

A system which urges the duty to develop environment-friendly in the upper area and imposes monetary burdens in the lower area to balance with the duty sustained by the people in the upper area. Major devices are designation of protection area, construction of environmental infrastructure, imposition of water-usage tax on the people in the lower area and supporting projects for the residents in the upper area.