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Grand Canal Project to Begin Next Year

Posted January. 11, 2008 07:24,   


Lee Kyung-sook, chairwoman of the president transition committee, said on Thursday, that President-elect Lee Myung-bak made it clear that he would undergo all the proper formalities before building the cross-country canal.

"I met with the president-elect yesterday. He clearly stated that it would take one year after he takes office for actual construction to commence, given that the project requires private domestic investment," chairwoman Lee said during a meeting with assistant administrators at the transition team’s office in Samcheong-dong, Seoul.

"[Media] articles seem to give the impression that [the president-elect] is rushing the project without gauging public opinion. However, I clearly heard [President-elect Lee’s words]. He said, `After the inauguration, I think it will take more than a year to undergo all the procedures, attract private investment and buildup public support,`" Lee added.

Seoul National University professor Ryu Woo-ik, who was closely involved in drawing up the canal project, told the Dong-A Ilbo on Wednesday that President-elect Lee believes the project does not have to be completed during his term in office. "If it takes more time to reach a public consensus, the beginning of the construction can be postponed. If this happens, the completion of the project will naturally be delayed.”

Transition committee spokesman Lee Dong-gwan said on Thursday, "Some media outlets have begun to report that the cross-country canal project will start right away, giving the confusing impression that it would be carried out in a hurried manner. That’s why President-elect Lee reiterated that he would undertake the project prudently after having gained the support of the public and experts.”

"The transition committee was briefed on the canal project and has been gathering the opinions of experts through meetings,” spokesman Lee added. “These types of activities will continue even after the committee completes its activities. We will invite both proponents and opponents when we hold a debate in early February."

Choo Boo-gil, head of the committee’s policy-planning team, also said on Thursday in an interview with the Pyunghwa Broadcasting Corporation, that the incoming administration would have about one-year prep time to garner a broad public consensus.

Regarding water contamination, Choo said, "The president-elect plans to supply the finest-quality water to the people by changing the way drinking water is supplied from the river like the utilization of an indirect water supply system, such as tapping subterranean water and riverbank filtration.

swpark@donga.com koh@donga.com