Posted February. 04, 2005 22:59,
Construction of the Korean Train Express (KTX) Cheonseong tunnel is yet again on the verge of suspension. This resembles last year, when construction was also suspended for nine months. Even if the environmental research results were to be announced in less than three months, there is no guarantee that environmental organizations would throw in the towel and construction would glide to completion.
Environmentally-influenced research should have been meticulously completed before construction began. It is madness to launch another environmental investigation at this point, when the rapid transit railway construction commenced in 1992 with a total of 13 trillion won poured into the making.
The KTX railway that expanded from Seoul to Daegu due to a snail-paced leg that stretches from Daegu to Busan, is suffering from operational losses. Taking in an average deficit of seven billion won daily, it is a sad fate to see a national enterprise crumbling in the hands of emotional environmental protests. The Korean clawed salamander that environmental organizations so harp on is not even an endangered species. If we do not drill a tunnel, roundabout routes will wreak even more environmental havoc.
Likewise, the Saemangeum business-
Plowing through 10 years of research that began in 1991, the Saemangeum projects budget dwarfed over two trillion won. The core of the Saemangeum construction is an embankment 290 meters in width and 18 meters in height that spans a total of 33 kilometers, with 92 percent of the intervals seeing production and 2.7 kilometers left.
At this point, the crux of the matter is that the Saemangeun be developed in an environmentally-friendly way, the function of it being advantageous to the national economy and Jeonbuk residents. Do we really need controversy over economics when the embankment is on the verge of completion after 14 years of construction?
The fact that the courts injunction decisions regarding construction suspension differed in its two hearings adds to the confusion. The panel concurred with the environmental organizations in the recent hearing, but allowed construction to resume. It is the governments green business transformation; a compromise. However, it is feared that environmentalists empowered by the win will strengthen their attack.
To stop a costly state project that has already been in the works for over a decade can only be called extreme environmentalism. The minimization of environmental damage in both national undertakings and advocating sustainable development are the due assignments for the parties involved.