February 12th 2015
Work on the Nicaragua Grand Canal has started but its construction has raised questions because of the lack of an environmental impact review, says a report.
Hong Kong-based HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co Ltd (HKND) is responsible for constructing the route.
A report in the Scientific American says a study on the environmental impact of the preliminary construction – and not on the canal project itself – was released six days before construction started on December 22, 2014. The environmental impact of this potential new slice through Central America is unknown, said the report.
Earlier, the head of Nicaragua’s construction industry group said the lack of transparency may harm the mammoth project.
A reader of the Scientific American report shared that sentiment. “I’m troubled by this project’s lack of transparency and its potential environmental impact. At the same time, I’m rooting for it to succeed,” the reader wrote. “I worry that we are losing our will to undertake projects that are big and bold. Yes, every bold project will have costs, downsides and dangers. But we can’t forever be using these as an excuse for wussing out of doing something bold.”
The cost of the Nicaragua Grand Canal construction is estimated at $50 billion. When complete, it would measure 278 kilometers long, whereas the Panama Canalis 77 kilometers long. Its width is set to vary between 230 and 520 meters, with a protection border of five kilometers on either side of the canal. A large part of the channel would pass through Lake Nicaragua (also known as Lake Cocibolca), the largest tropical lake in Central America, the report said.
The size of the project has raised some doubts. Sceptics reportedly included scientists and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). However, a report now says ACP has recently acknowledged that the project is feasible. “We find that, technically, the project can be built... with enough resources and time,” Francisco J. Miguez, ACP’s executive vice president for finance and administration, told news provider McClatchy DC.