Unrelenting

Ukraine opens Bastroe canal despite stiff resistance

 
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

ukraine is facing an international onslaught for opening the Bastroe canal, which is being enlarged and deepened to provide a waterway between the Black Sea and the Ukrainian section of the Danube river delta. The us, the eu and various environmental groups have opposed the shipping canal, saying it would harm the fragile ecosystem of the region. This area is a designated unesco 'Man and the Biosphere' site and is also protected under the 1971 Ramsar International Convention on Wetlands. The fresh protests were triggered before the opening of the first section of the canal on August 26, 2004. The canal would become fully operational by the end of 2004.

Opponents of the project say the three kilometre long canal would destroy the nesting ground of thousands of endangered birds. It would also threaten the delta's wetland, home to 70 per cent of the world's white pelicans and half of the world's pygmy cormorants. Ukraine's neighbour Romania claims the project would adversely affect its water levels. It has threatened to take Ukraine to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. But Ukraine argues that the canal would create job opportunities for its poor. Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma said: "..in actual fact its [canal's]construction has been carried out in line with all international ecological demands, the channel was completed without any damage to the environment."

While the us has voiced "deep concern" at the canal's possible impacts, the European Commission urged Ukraine to stop work on the project till a fresh environmental impact assessment. "The opening of this canal is not going to help our relations with Ukraine," said ec spokesperson, Jean-Christophe Filori.

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