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Environmentalists slam river project report

Korea’s Board of Audit and Inspection ’has lost credibility’ by supporting the government

Environmentalists slam river project report
A river project construction site (Courtesy of Catholic Solidarity for Deterrence of Four Major Rivers Project)

A Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) report into the controversial Four Rivers Project is nothing more than a weak attempt to justify an ill-conceived government scheme, opponents say. The People’s Solidarity against the Four Rivers Project, an environmental group, released a statement on Jan. 27 condemning the report. “The report ignores the truth, lacks common sense and only speaks for the government, thus arousing suspicion,” the statement said. “The board only addresses the efficiency of the project’s implementation and speaks of its so called necessity and validity. It’s very one-sided,” it added. The BAI, an independent agency established by the president, released its year-long audit results on the project earlier on Jan. 27. It said “completed parts of the project are already helping contain floods better.” The environmental group swiftly accused the BAI of taking the government’s side by not recognizing that there were no legal processes regarding preliminary feasibility studies, environmental-effect evaluations and cultural asset inspections. The only thing the BAI pointed out was the lack of a link with existing stream management works and over-dredging on some parts of the project, it said. “By holding the government’s hand during this controversy, the BAI has given up its independence and the authority to prevent such schemes by-passing the law,” the statement said. “Several natural features and cultural assets have been damaged, but the BAI has closed its eyes to this in a report that we cannot accept,” the statement added. The government is enforcing a 22.2 trillion-won (US$19.13 billion) project to dredge and dam South Korea’s four major waterways to prevent flooding and pollution. However, environmentalists and civic groups argue the project is damaging ecological systems and that the water gates and weirs will lock up pollutants and worsen water quality.   Related report Bishops worry about govt’s river project KO13083.1639

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