Posted January. 17, 2005 22:23,
The Saemangum reclamation project is facing a risk of being suspended for a long time as the Seoul Administration Court proposed on January 17 that the tide embankment construction be halted until discussions over the use of reclaimed land conclude. The project was launched back in 1991, and construction of the water dam is unfinished.
The government has decided to finish the tide embankment construction first and then discuss how to use the reclaimed land excluding parts that will be used as farmland. However, the courts ruling is expected to cause trouble to the governments plan.
The Government is Reviewing its Stance-
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry did not offer immediate reactions to the courts proposal. The ministrys director of rural development Seo Byung-hoon said in an afternoon press briefing at Gwacheon Government Complex, We will have meetings of related ministers regarding the courts ruling and clarify the governments standing until February 2, when we should file an objection.
Yet, it was clear that the ministry was at a loss, faced with an unexpected factor, which is an order to decide the usage of reclaimed land first at a time when the water dam construction is almost over.
The ministry is saying the courts ruling that use of reclaimed land was not specifically mentioned is hard to understand, as the project had started for the creation of farmland and such stated goal has been mentioned several times in the discussion with environment protection groups.
A government official from North Cholla Province also noted, The governments national plan is at the risk of being halted once again because of the judicial power, adding, It has left a bad precedent in the course of conducting national plans.
Saemangum Project May be Suspended for a Long Time-
Environment protection groups have accepted the courts ruling for now. However, even if the ministry accepts it, aiming to complete its construction, political circles will have discussion and construction will be suspended until the concerned committee concludes its decision. In other words, chances are high that the project will be suspended for a long period of time.
That is because a committee comprised of civilians recommended by environment protection groups, government officials, and members recommended by North Cholla Province should be established to decide how to use the reclaimed land in Saemangum. The process is expected to take some years, leading to a delay of the project and eventually increasing financial burdens.
In case the committee drags its feet in gathering members or discussion, the plaintiff can file a suit with the court again in the middle of the process.
If the ministry does not accept the ruling, a trial will be held next month. Yet, it may take some more years, as the government, which lost the case in the first trial, is likely to appeal.