Buddhist monks join environmental campaign
- [Editorial]Imperiled national park
The fierce clash between the Korea Highway Corporation and the civic environmental groups surrounding the construction of an expressway encircling the capital city attests to another telltale case of the government's imprudent land development policy. Endangered by the 130 km-long highway project currently in its final phase toward completion is the green belt of scenic mountains along the northern border of the Seoul metropolitan area that is designated a national park.
It is no wonder that environmentalists are aghast at the plan to build tunnels through the three famed mountains that are all recognized for their outstanding scenic beauty and natural habitats - Bukhan, Surak and Buram mountains. The highway builders explain that the circular freeway, with these tunnels and as many elevated sections as possible, will cause only negligible environmental damage on the mountains. Rather, they insist a detour will bring about more serious air pollution from the traffic.
We sympathize with the environmentalists who believe a highway running through the Mt. Bukhan National Park should be the last thing to consider in an urban development plan to address the growing traffic. Some 140,000 vehicles are expected to use the highway every day, which will be a fatal disaster to the wildlife in the park. No doubt the natural environment across the park, including its flora and fauna and underground waterways, will already be exposed to destruction in the process of construction.
The mountains are not only rich in pristine wildlife but cultural legacies handed down at over a hundred Buddhist temples, some of them dating back over a thousand years. Naturally enough, many Buddhist monks have joined the campaign to oppose the construction. The Seoul District Court ruled last week that construction should be halted on controversial sections in accordance with an appeal from 19 temples in the vicinity. The ruling should be the beginning of a process to work out a plan to salvage the nation's great asset from destruction.
Frank M. Tedesco, Ph.D., Adjunct Faculty
Dept. of Anthropology, 258 Davis Hall
140 7th Avenue South
St.Petersburg, Florida 33701
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