Work on the USD 40 billion Nicaragua canal will start on December 22 and the project will have minimal environmental and social impact, officials confirmed Thursday, November 20th, the Associated Press (AP) reports.
The announcement comes in the wake of conclusion of feasibility studies which are expected to be approved next month.
The construction’s initial stage will take place at a port on the country’s southern Pacific coast, according to Zhu Xiaoya, an official with Hong-Kong-based HKND group, in charge of the project’s construction.
However, small adjustments are being made to the overall project, including dredging stretches of a lake rather than using underwater explosives, writes Reuters.
The very construction is expected to be completed in five years with the canal becoming operational by 2020.
Environmentalists and certain Nicaraguan politicians have expressed their concerns with the project, questioning the Canal’s impact on the environment, as well as the lack of experience of its Chinese developer, with large infrastructure projects.
Major concerns have been voiced regarding the project’s impact on Lake Nicaragua and its communities, since the lake is an important source of fresh water.
Residents along the route have staged numerous protest marches to voice their opposition.
The USD 40 billion project includes two ports, an airport, an artificial lake, two locks, a free trade zone, tourist facilities, roadways and cement factories.
The Nicaragua Grand Canal will be three times longer than the Panama Canal, with the ability to accommodate ships up to 400,000 tonnes.