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Three Major National Project Promoted as Planned

Posted September. 19, 2003 23:19,   


The final decision will be made at the end of this month on the construction of the Seoul beltway; the tunnel in Mt. Cheonjeong and Mt. Keumjeong along Kyeongbu high-speed railway; and the Kyeongin Canal - three major national projects. The promotion of the construction projects was suspended due to the oppositions from the religious circles and environmental groups. At the meeting discussing the nation`s pending issues, which was presided by Prime Minister Goh Kun Friday, the government reaffirmed the government position on the projects.

˝The government has come close to making final decisions on the three major projects. But any of the government`s decision would meet opposition. So we decided to make the final decision on the issue later this month to have more time to persuade oppositions.˝ said Cho Kyeong-su, an official at the Office for Government Policy Coordination.

The Ministry of Construction and Transportation said that the two projects except the construction of the Kyeongin canal are likely to be promoted according to the government`s plan.

The opposition from the Buddhism delayed the construction of the Mt. Sapae section on the Seoul Beltway in November 2001. The construction of the road bypassing Mt. Bukhan, the alternative to the original section, however, is likely to severely damage forests compared with that of the original section. The alternative road also goes through densely-populated residential area, which is likely to bring about much complaint from residents. In addition to these two problems, the construction of the road bypassing Uijeongbu is likely to increase the fee for the use of the road up to 82 billion won annually.

Two areas suggested as alternatives to the Mt. Cheonseong and Mt. Keumjeong on the Kyeongbu high-speed railway also go through residential areas or hugely damage the environment. Moreover, direct and indirect costs resulting from the changes in projects are estimated to be more than 18 trillion won.

On the other hand, consensus was made on the construction of the Kyeongin canal. The government was said to decide to complete the construction of water drainage way for Gulpocheon Rriver and build roads around the area. Then, the government would decide whether to continue the project after considering the economic costs related to the construction.

Meanwhile, the government`s announcement brought about a flurry of complaints from both civic groups and construction companies which were fiercely divided over the issue.

˝I will continue to fight for the scrapping of the Mt. Sapae tunnel project, which was the president`s campaign commitment, regardless of the government`s decision." said the Buddhist monk Boseong, taking strong stand on the issue.

Seoul Beltway Corporation also expressed much concern over the delay of the final decision. The company expected that the construction of the current section would be announced by the government.