Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Seoul Incheon Canal And Its Opposition

Work began on the Gyeongin canal in 2001. It is a canal that will stretch from Seoul to Incheon. The construction of the 18-kilometer waterway linking the Han River and the Yellow Sea was suspended because of opposition. Many found it lacking basic economic feasablity along with serious damage to the eco-systems. It started again this past month. ``Once the canal is completed, it will serve multiple purposes, ranging from flood control, cruise tours and logistics, to serving as an artery between Seoul and a new city built in Seongdo, Incheon, bringing change to the industrial and geographical map of the western regions of the nation,'' an official said.

There was a plan to build a canal from Seoul to Pusan but this plan because of intense opposition was scraped. This project from Seoul to Incheon is not of that scope but is still getting a great deal of opposition from an alliance of civic groups that includes many priests from the Incheon Diocese. Even the Bishop of the Diocese is very much concerned because of the prayer meetings and fasting that many of the priests have been involved in for some time. It was a project pushed not by the needs of the people but as the Bishop says in his Easter Letter more concern with those with power and influence. The Bishop mentions a project that was suppose to be an example of what can be done with a polluted lake; there was all kinds of false publicity concerning the project only to have no one around to defend it after it turned out to be a disaster. The lake became filled with polluted water from the ocean. The bishop's desire was a hope that projects would begin with plans well thought out, with the citizens to benefit from the project, and to have their support. He hopes that the Government will not side with those with power but be interested in the welfare of the poor and their needs.

We have had problems in recent years with the conflict between development and environment. It is something that we are being faced with more and more. The Church’s
Social Teaching has a number of principles and I would understand the Bishop to be stressing some of these in his brief comments on the Seoul Incheon Canal:
The Common Good
And to Stand with the poor.

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