Nicaragua: Social, environmental concerns associated with Chinese firm HKND Group's major canal project

Ruta_Canal_Interoceanico_segun_diario_El_Confidencial

The Interoceanic Canal, concessioned to the Chinese Company HKND Group [Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development] is a $50 billion project.  The canal, which will be approximately 278km long and would reportedly pass through 282 communities' lands, has led to concerns by indigenous communities, environmentalists, and other parts of Nicaraguan society. These groups are concerned about potential environmental impacts, displacement, lack of transparency and other human rights abuses.  Protesters have reportedly faced harassment and repression. 

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited HKND Group to respond to these concerns.  Response provided below.

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Company response
22 January 2015

HKND Group response

Author: HKND Group

[W]e are developing the project based on the principles of legality, transparency and fairness…[W]e have encouraged all the stakeholders to express openly their concerns and questions in a respectful and harmonious way. HKND Group strongly condemns the events that have developed into acts of violence and that have equally put at risk the life of civilians, policemen and our workers…The resettlement work will be based on the principles of being equitable, fair, public and transparent…The Advance Report of the Feasibility Studies and the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of the Project is available on our website…

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Article
25 January 2015

Experts say canal would pass through 282 communities & could have significant environmental impacts

Author: Lucas Laursen, Nature (USA)

“Nicaragua defies canal protests”, 27 December 2014

…An [independent] assessment…concluded that the canal would cause “very significant environmental impacts”, and probably would not have been approved under Nicaragua’s usual rules…The Humboldt centre estimates that the canal zone will pass through or near 282 communities, including a large tract of indigenous communal land. The canal concession gives HKND the right to seize this and other land, and Nicaraguans far from the canal route have reported visits to their land by Chinese surveyors accompanied by Nicaraguan military escorts…

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Article
25 January 2015

Opponents & journalists reportedly harassed & abused by police

Author: Lindsay Fendt & AFP, The Tico Times (Costa Rica)

“Journalists harassed, detained in latest chapter of Nicaragua canal saga”, 7 January 2015

Canal protesters aren’t the only ones clashing with police in Nicaragua…[J]ournalists…have been harassed, detained and even robbed by police... El Tule was one of the sites of recent violent protests by landowners who fear their properties will be seized and other canal opponents. Some were severely beaten and spent days in jail…[P]ressure..has been coupled with a glaring lack of transparency regarding many details of the massive project. Already weeks into initial construction, HKND has yet to release any of the required environmental or social impact assessments to the public...

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Article
25 January 2015

Thousands protest against canal raising concerns about lack of adequate compensation for land

Author: BBC (UK)

“Nicaraguans protest against canal plans”, 10 December 2014

Thousands of people have marched through the streets of Nicaragua's capital, Managua, to protest against a canal project that will link the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans…The demonstrators said their land was being taken away to make room for the planned $50bn…project…The waterway will be 278km (172 miles) long and will be deeper and wider than the Panama Canal…There have been questions raised about the finances underpinning the project and allegations that Wang Jing, the Chinese businessman behind the plan, lacks experience in developing and financing big infrastructure projects...

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Article
10 May 2015

Nicaragua: Inter-ocean canal could cause major social, environmental harm, says expert – previous response by HKND provided

Author: Chris Kraul, Yale Environment 360 & Chinadialogue

Nicaragua_lake

“Nicaragua Canal: A giant project with huge environmental costs” 5 May 2015

…[P]reliminary work has already begun…before the….environmental impact assessment…Nicaraguans, as well as…scientists, say the canal would be an environmental catastrophe…it would also displace tens of thousands of Nicaraguans, including indigenous people…Some skeptics think that rather than building the canal, Wang Jing [from HKND] has set his sights on building nine “sub-projects”...Researchers were concerned that the lake dredging…would compromise the lake’s water quality…Scientists worry…about…what the environment could do to the canal. Nicaragua is the scene of frequent seismic and volcanic activity and…hurricanes…“By international standards, HKND hasn’t presented even 1 percent of the information to the public that it should…”[according to expert]…

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre previously invited HKND Group to respond to concerns related to the canal construction; the response is available here‏.

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Author: Chris Kraul, 中外对话

...这项由中国商人王靖提议、造价为500亿美元的运河工程获得了尼加拉瓜政府的全力支持...该运河工程获得了许多尼加拉瓜人的支持...另一些尼加拉瓜人和国内外科学家们则认为这项工程将带来一场环境灾难,威胁该国大量的生态系统。此外,由于运河将穿过原住民的领地,因此包括原住民在内的数以万计的尼加拉瓜人将失去家园...频繁往来的超级油轮和货船将威胁到敏感的海洋生态系统,包括面积为250平方英里的哥伦比亚生物圈保护区,这里有加勒比海第二大珊瑚礁系统...

对大多数尼加拉瓜人来说,运河的环境影响只是很不起眼的次要问题,首要的问题还是运河带来的经济刺激...尼加拉瓜国会通过的特别法律授权HKND公司可以在事先被界定为半独立的土地上进行建设。关于运河导致的移民人数有各种各样的估算,从3万到10万以上不等...大自然保护协会的科学家乔·基耶塞科指出,运河项目缺少一个深入、独立的环境影响评估...

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Author: Chris Kraul, 中外對話

... 這項由中國商人王靖提議、造價為500億美元的運河工程獲得了尼加拉瓜政府的全力支持... 該運河工程獲得了許多尼加拉瓜人的支持...另一些尼加拉瓜人和國內外科學家們則認為這項工程將帶來一場環境災難,威脅該國大量的生態系統。此外,由於運河將穿過原住民的領地,因此包括原住民在內的數以萬計的尼加拉瓜人將失去家園... 頻繁往來的超級油輪和貨船將威脅到敏感的海洋生態系統,包括面積為250平方英里的 哥倫比亞生物圈保護區 ,這裡有加勒比海第二大珊瑚礁系統...

對大多數尼加拉瓜人來說,運河的環境影響只是很不起眼的次要問題,首要的問題還是運河帶來的經濟刺激... 尼加拉瓜國會通過的特別法律授權HKND公司可以在事先被界定為半獨立的土地上進行建設。關於運河導致的移民人數有各種各樣的估算,從3萬到10萬以上不等... 大自然保護協會的科學家喬·基耶塞科指出,運河項目缺少一個深入、獨立的環境影響評估...

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Author: 新华网

香港尼加拉瓜运河开发投资有限公司(HKND)的常务副总裁彭国伟和首席项目顾问华伟林接受新华网采访,针对近期对于尼加拉瓜运河建设所带来的环保等问题的质疑做出回应...HKND常务副总裁彭国伟表示,运河建设只会影响一小部分湿地,从长远来看,更应该关注到的是运河对于已遭破坏的湿地环境的改善作用...HKND首席项目顾问华伟林告诉记者:...“...为什么没有人认识到我们承诺在尼加拉瓜全国范围进行大规模的植被恢复计划,修复已遭破坏的大片土地?”..."我们需要安置七千多户居民,但是尼加拉瓜政府给我们的数据中,只有25户是土著居民。换句话说,对于土著文化的影响其实很小。"...华伟林称,运河的建设会带来15万个工作岗位...当地居民的反对声音其实很小,出现的反对声只是被过分放大了...

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Author: 新華網

香港尼加拉瓜運河開發投資有限公司(HKND)的常務副總裁彭國偉和首席項目顧問華偉林接受新華網採訪,針對近期對於尼加拉瓜運河建設所帶來的環保等問題的質疑做出回應... HKND常務副總裁彭國偉表示,運河建設只會影響一小部分濕地,從長遠來看,更應該關注到的是運河對於已遭破壞的濕地環境的改善作用... HKND首席項目顧問華偉林告訴記者: ...“...為什麼沒有人認識到我們承諾在尼加拉瓜全國范圍進行大規模的植被恢復計劃,修復已遭破壞的大片土地?”..."我們需要安置七千多戶居民,但是尼加拉瓜政府給我們的數據中,只有25戶是土著居民。換句話說,對於土著文化的影響其實很小。 "...華偉林稱,運河的建設會帶來15萬個工作崗位...當地居民的反對聲音其實很小,出現的反對聲只是被過分放大了...

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Article
14 May 2015

Nicaragua Canal: A giant project with huge environmental costs

Author: Chris Kraul, ChinaDialogue

...The US$50 billion canal project is the brainchild of Chinese businessman Wang Jing and has the full support of the Nicaraguan government...Many Nicaraguans back the canal project, and preliminary work has already begun — even before the completion of an environmental impact assessment. But other Nicaraguans, as well as local and international scientists, say the canal would be an environmental catastrophe, threatening a host of ecosystems across the country...it would also displace tens of thousands of Nicaraguans, including indigenous people...Scientists say the damage to Lake Nicaragua could be enormous...

For most Nicaraguans, environmental concerns about the canal run a distant second to the economic stimulus that President Daniel Ortega has promised the canal would deliver...special laws passed by the National Assembly gave HKND the right to build on native lands previously designated as quasi-sovereign. Estimates of how many residents would be displaced by canal construction run from 30,000 to more than 100,000 people...

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