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Korea

Archdiocese condemns land project

Says plan threatens environment and only serves business interests

ucanews.com reporter, Seoul

ucanews.com reporter, Seoul

Published: August 17, 2011 10:17 AM GMT

Updated: August 17, 2011 11:00 AM GMT

Archdiocese condemns land project
Construction of Saemangeum reclamation is going on at Jeollabuk-do province (Photo courtesy of Korea Federation of Environmental Movements of Jeonju)

Two committees within the Seoul archdiocese yesterday issued a joint statement of condemnation of the Saemangeum reclamation project, which they say has destroyed the local ecosystem and polluted water supplies. The Committee for Justice and Peace and the Environmental Pastoral Committee said in their statement that the government has backed the project, which began in 1991, despite protests from environmental, civil, and religious groups. The project was to include the transformation of the Saemangeum tidal flat in southwestern Jeollabuk-do province into farmland by constructing a 33-kilometer sea wall. The wall was completed in January last year at a cost of about 11 trillion won (about US$12 billion). However, the project needs an estimated additional 11 trillion won to complete the land reclamation plan. The joint statement said the plan has become a “development project” aimed at raising business profits, despite claims by the government that it would be used to increase food security. The statement said only about 30.3 percent of the reclaimed land would be used for farming, with the remainder dedicated to industrial and business purposes. Augustine Maeng Joo-hyung, education director at the Environmental Pastoral Committee, told ucanews.com today that this year marks the second decade of the project, but that there have been no evaluations conducted by civil society or religious groups. “The Catholic Church needs to take the lead in preserving the environment by reviewing this project,” he said. Related reports: Church disagrees with court ruling allowing government to resume land-reclamation project

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