Chinese concession holder of the Nicaragua Canal project, Hong Kong Nicaragua Development group (HKND), has received approval from the state-run Nicaraguan Grand Interoceanic Canal Commission on the environmental and social impact studies for the waterway project, clearing the way for construction to begin, according to EFE news.
Manuel Coronel Kautz, President of the Nicaraguan Grant Interoceanic Canal Commission, said: “We're authorising HKND now to begin the design, structural and construction processes.”
The resolution was approved because HKND pledged to comply with 48 environmental, social and economic requirements, including agreeing to additional, highly scientifically rigorous studies.
The project entails construction of an interoceanic waterway that will be 276 kilometres long, up to 520 metres wide, 30 metres deep, link Nicaragua's Pacific and Atlantic coasts, and serve as a rival to the Panama Canal.
Further projects will include roads, two deep-water ports and a free-trade zone.
Kamilo Lara, an ecologist for the commission, said he was convinced the project would “restore the environmental damage we Nicaraguans have systematically caused.”
Concerns arose recently of the canal’s feasibility, as the US$50 billion project would pose significant risks to the people and environment of Nicaragua, with certain types of marine and plant life at threat of extinction.
Phase one is to begin in 2016 and will take five years to complete.
HKND has a 50-year concession to build and operate the canal and is to obtain the financing for the project.