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Province Stripped of River Development Right

Posted November. 16, 2010 11:15,   


The central government stripped South Gyeongsang Province of the right to develop the Nakdong River Monday as part of the national four-river restoration project.

The province pledged to counter the action, including through legal action, heralding an escalating conflict between the central and South Gyeongsang governments over the project and rejection by opposition parties.

The Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Ministry said it informed the province of its decision to revoke the treaty on entrusting the project to South Gyeongsang to implement Section 13 of the project.

In an official letter signed by the chief of the Busan Regional Construction Management Administration, the ministry said, “The government signed a treaty on the execution of the project to restore the Nakdong River in October last year, but South Gyeongsang Province has constantly opposed and delayed the project.”

“The province has not only unilaterally demanded a revision to the project’s plan on the construction of weirs and dredging, but has also postponed placing orders for Section 47. As such, the (central) government nullifies the treaty on entrusting the project’s execution because of the province`s failure in implementation effective Nov. 15.”

The Land Ministry also said, “The (central) government plans to take the necessary procedures such as the redemption of the project budget and settlements, and accordingly would like the provincial government to cooperate in follow-up measures, including handing over the necessary documents.”

Clause 2 of Article 28 in the River Act allows the central government to delegate the rights to river development projects to the heads of cities or provincial governments. Accordingly, Seoul signed a treaty on entrusting 13 projects worth 1.2 trillion won (1 billion U.S. dollars) for South Gyeongsang to implement.

The ministry said Monday that Shim Myung-pil, chief of the Office of National River Restoration, phoned South Gyeongsang Gov. Kim Doo-kwan, who is visiting Japan, to inform him of the decision. Lim Gyeong-kuk, head of the Busan Regional Construction Management Administration, visited South Gyeongsang Vice Gov. Lim Chae-ho to say the right had been revoked effective midnight Monday.

Shim’s deputy Lee Jae-bung said, “The government entrusted the provincial government with the right to conduct the project in line with the River Act at the province’s request to help the province galvanize regional economic development. Since the province changed governors in July, however, we’ve had problems because the project has progressed at a snail’s pace, with ground yet to be broken for certain sections.”

“We have thus concluded that the province has no intent to carry out the project.”

According to the ministry, the progress ratio of the sections entrusted to South Gyeongsang was 18.8 percent as of late last month, which is far behind the average of 32.3 percent for the entire Nakdong River project. The progress ratio at sections 7 to 10 remain as low as 1.6 percent, which prompted the central government to take the extreme measure of revoking the right.

The province immediately expressed opposition to the revocation of the right. Kang Byung-ki, vice governor for political affairs, said in a news conference in the afternoon, “The reason cited for revocation of the right by the Land Ministry does not comply with the rules so we will take countermeasures confidently and resolutely.”

“We will do everything we can, including filing a court injunction, to nullify the decision to revoke the treaty.”

redfoot@donga.com manman@donga.com