EspañolThe Nicaraguan government has decided it will not yet release to the public the results of an environmental-impact study of its Grand Canal project, according to local media reports on Friday, June 19.
The consulting firm Environmental Resources Management (ERM) says it handed in its report on May 31 to the Canal Committee, which then turned it over to a group of experts headed by Nicaragua’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
Grand Canal spokesman Telémaco Talavera Siles told local Nicaraguan TV that the ERM report makes up 14 volumes, and the summary alone is 120 pages long.
Government officials have said the canal’s construction will take at least 10 more years, but the Chinese telecom magnate, Wang Jing, who controls the company in charge of the project, has reportedly demanded the canal be completed in no more than five.
The Nicaraguan government granted Jing’s HKND a 50-year concession to build and manage the canal that will connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
According to HKND’s estimates, the construction of the Grand Canal will require 50,000 workers just to dig the 278 kilometers long and 90 feet deep trench, and an additional 2,000 workers to remove more than 5 million cubic meters of stone, mud, and dirt.
Despite Jing’s fast-paced ambitions, the Nicaraguan government has only just completed its environmental studies, two years after the Congress passed Grand Canal Law 840 authorizing its construction. Local farmers who are protesting the loss of their lands have also slowed construction.
“They are not sure they will receive a fair price for their land; they know they could become victims or be forced to leave; they don’t know where to go because there isn’t a plan guaranteeing them work and social dignity,” the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference wrote in March in a letter addressed to the country’s Catholics.
Nicaragua’s Catholic Church leadership has urged the national government to only continue with the project if they can prove it will not cause any environmental damages and will benefit all citizens.