The Korea Herald

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Central government to directly manage rivers

By 고영아

Published : Feb. 8, 2011 - 18:14

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The central government plans to tighten its grip on the management of water resources nationwide in a move apparently aimed at expediting its controversial river renovation projects.

The work to clean up and develop Han, Nakdong, Geum and Yeongsan rivers has been delayed by the recalcitrant provincial governments in charge of them.
The Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs said Tuesday it will push for a law revision to put under its direct control 61 rivers and streams, whose combined length is 3,000 kilometers, to prevent reckless development.

The ministry will submit a revision bill in the first half of the year.

“The government is pushing the plan as it is imperative for us to prevent thoughtless development and preserve the waterside areas systematically,” Lee Jae-bung, deputy head of the ministry’s four rivers restoration project headquarters, said.

“In order to provide people with pleasant waterside areas, we don’t want too many greenhouses, motels and other recreational facilities being established near the rivers.”

Upon retrieving the management right from municipalities, the ministry will convey it to state-run water firm K-Water to carry out an integrated management on 16 beams on the four rivers, officials said.

According to the current river law, all regional rivers and streams in the nation are managed by provincial governments except for ones designated as national rivers which are managed by the ministry.

The list of the latter includes the country’s five largest rivers and 55 streams connected to them. The number of regional rivers sums up to 3,772.

Event watchers are expecting that the matter will raise a sharp dispute at the National Assembly. The opposition Democratic Party is opposing the bill, saying that it gives too much power to the government.

The four rivers project is a proposal by the current Lee Myung-bak administration.

The government aims to restore four major rivers to provide water security and flood control, while drawing more tourists to the area. It plans to complete the 22.2 trillion won ($17.3 billion) project by around 2014.

By Koh Young-aah (youngaah@heraldcorp.com)