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Scholars Warn of ‘Disaster’ from Canal Project

Posted February. 01, 2008 08:06,   


A group of economics, civil engineering and environment professors yesterday warned of disaster if the proposed cross-country canal project of the new administration proceeds.

At a forum hosted by the Society for Seoul National University Professors against the Grand Canal Project, the scholars gave arguments against the plan. About 300 students and professors attended the event at the university.

Kim Jeong-wook, a graduate professor of environmental studies at Seoul National University, said, “Rivers can reduce the destructive power of floods and the ecosystem only if they keep their original form. The grand canal project, which involves straightening rivers and keeping depths consistent, will cause environmental disasters.”

He said 2,000 people died after canals in Florida were completed in the 1920s, with water creatures perishing and 90 to 95 percent of water birds disappearing. Turning the Kissimmee River into canals cost 300 billion dollars, but restoring the river cost three trillion dollars, he said.

Hong Jong-ho, an economics professor at Hanyang University, said, “In size and economic and environmental aspects, the grand canal cannot be the second Cheonggye Stream project, and in transportation, it can never be the second Gyeongbu Highway.”

“It is a plan made not by the shipping industry, the user, but by the construction industry, the supplier.”

Park Chang-geun, a civil engineering professor at Kwandong University, said, “The most important aspects have yet to be decided, such as connecting the Han and Nakdong rivers and the depth of the canal, but discussions on the project are proceeding according to a politicians’ schedule.

He suggested an engineering review should come before a political decision.

The Society for Seoul National University Professors against the Grand Canal Project consists of 80 members. It plans to cooperate with other scholars to conduct an organized movement against the project.