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Nicaragua: New Plans to Build Canal are Announced

By Kari Paul | The Argentina Independent | June 6, 2013

Rene Nuñez, president of Nicaragua’s national assembly, announced today that a Chinese investment firm will fund construction of a channel through Nicaragua, an alternative trade route to the Panama Canal.

The new channel will link the Pacific Ocean with the Caribbean Sea, and will be built by a “consortium of investors combined into one firm,” Nuñez, who declined to give more information on the group, said.

The government of Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega has introduced two bills to streamline the environmental impact study on the new works, so that the channel can be constructed as soon as possible.

“This is a project that is very important to the country, so we are pursuing it with urgency,” Nuñez said.

President Ortega said that the channel will serve as an alternative to the overcrowded Panama Canal, which is currently undergoing a US$5.2bn expansion project. He also stressed that the Nicaragua Canal will bring jobs to the impoverished in Nicaragua and other Central American countries.

Others oppose the canal, saying the government is pursuing it recklessly.

“I don’t know what is the rush, especially with such a sensitive topic,” said congressman Luis Callejas. “There should be a full consultation with the people, I do not understand why they are rushing the decision.”

Originally the channel was planned to go through the San Juan River, but now Ortega announced it would be built further north, through the waters of Lake Nicaragua.

“Lake Nicaragua should be a source of drinking water for Nicaragua and South America,” argued Environmental Affairs Chair Jaime Incer. He said the lake is currently protected as a “potable water reserve” by a law that Ortega himself passed.

The Nicaraguan National Assembly will debate the two bills on the project, taking into account the environmental impact, on Friday.

June 6, 2013 - Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism | , , , ,

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