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Lee confident of success of river restoration project

All Headlines 13:25 January 19, 2010

By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Jan. 19 (Yonhap) -- President Lee Myung-bak expressed confidence Tuesday that his controversial project to renovate the country's four major rivers will gain public support once carried out as planned.

The US$19 billion public works program is one of Lee's two main construction projects, along with his push to create a top-notch science and business town in Sejong City, the results of which will likely become prominent aspects of the legacy of his five-year presidency.

Under the "Four Big River Restoration Project," launched last year, the government will clean and refurbish the rivers nationwide -- the Han, Nakdong, Geum, and Yeongsan -- in a bid to prevent drought and floods as well as attract tourists.

The president, formerly a construction firm CEO, says the three-year massive development project will also create a lot of jobs but critics play it down as a cover for Lee's unpopular plan to build a trans-country canal.

The main opposition Democratic Party claims that it will only waste huge amounts of taxpayers' money and destroy the environment. A majority of South Koreans take a dim view of it, according to recent opinion polls by media.

Still, the president said he has no doubt that the river project will end up successfully and gain public support, stressing the outcome is important.

"There are many people who oppose the plan either politically or socially at the start of the project," Lee said on a tour of an inter-ministry organization in charge of the river program inside a complex of government offices in Gwacheon, just south of Seoul.

"Once it is completed, however, everybody will become ardent supporters." It is up to the final results, he added.


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