The committee of government officials, businessmen and academics
approved a 172 mile (278 km) route from the mouth of the Brito river
on the Pacific side to the Punto Gorda river on the Caribbean that
was proposed by executives from the HK Nicaragua Canal Development
Investment Co Ltd (HKND Group).
The Hong Kong-based HKND group, which is leading the project, is
headed by Chinese lawyer Wang Jing, who also heads Chinese company
Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group.
The proposed canal would pass through Lake Nicaragua, Central
America's largest lake, and will be between 230 meters and 520
meters (755 feet to 1,706 feet) wide and 27.6 meters (90 feet) deep,
said HKND engineer Dong Yunsong.
The proposed route still faces environmental and social impact
studies that could recommend some changes to the plan, but those
studies should be finished later this year to allow work to begin by
December, said committee member Telemaco Talavera.
Opponents of the plan are concerned about the canal's effect on Lake
Nicaragua, an important fresh water source for the country, as well
as the impact on poor communities.
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The plan is to finish the canal in 2019 and begin operations in
2020, Talavera said.
The proposed channel would be more than three times longer than the
48-mile (77-km) Panama Canal, which took the United States a decade
to build at the narrowest part of the Central American isthmus. It
was completed in 1914.
(Reporting by Ivan Castro; Editing by Alan Raybould)
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