Nicaragua canal will be 'the biggest [project] built in the history of humanity'
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/9/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Hailed as "the biggest [project] built in the history of humanity," the Nicaraguan government and the Hong Kong-based HKND Group plans to build a canal linking the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean. A route has been settled upon, stretching 173 miles from Punta Gorda on the Caribbean through Lake Nicaragua to the mouth of the river Brito on the Pacific.
Workers supervise the dredging of the Río San Juan in Nicaraugua.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Environmentalists have expressed concerns about the grandiose plan to build a canal to rival that of Panama. Regardless, Nicaragua says it plans to break ground on the $40 billion project this year.
Representatives from the HKND Group say the canal would be between 230 and 520 miles wide and 27.6 miles deep.
President Daniel Ortega (left) hopes the project will lift hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans out of poverty.
The Government of Nicaragua said it had chosen the route so it would avoid areas of great biodiversity, indigenous territories and environmentally protected lands.
But environmentalists are still concerned about the effects it may have on Lake Nicaragua, Central America's largest lake and an important source of fresh water.
Polls suggest a majority of Nicaraguans back the project but some fear it will not benefit its people.
The commission in charge of building the canal has assured others that environmental and social impact studies will be carried out on the route and changes would still be possible.
It said it expected construction to begin in December and to be finished within five years.
There are those who are skeptical of these claims, pointing out to the fact that it took the United States 10 years to build the Panama Canal, which at 77 kilometers is less than a third of the length of the planned canal through Nicaragua.
Nicaragua insists engineering and construction techniques have moved on since 1914, when the Panama Canal was completed.
HKND chairman Wang Jing said the canal would be "the biggest [project] built in the history of humanity."
Nicaraguan officials say their waterway would "complement" the Panama Canal rather than be in direct rivalry to it and that a bigger canal is essential to allow for increased global trade and ever larger tankers, many of which are too large for the Panama Canal, even after its current expansion.
They are confident the project will help lift the country out of poverty.
Engineers for the Hong Kong-based HKND Group said the canal would be between 230m and 520m wide and 27.6m deep.
Paul Oquist, a close adviser to President Daniel Ortega on the project, said that formal employment in Nicaragua "would double thanks to the canal and its multiplier effect."
Polls conducted last year suggest that a majority of Nicaraguans back the project but some fear it will not benefit its people.
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