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The Environment and the Tumen River Development Project

The Opinion page article "Tumen River Project Needs Tighter Reins," April 19, is far off base in its assertion that the partners in this unprecedented project - China, the two Koreas, Mongolia, Russia, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) - are shirking their responsibilities to the environment.

Had the authors contacted the UNDP, they would have learned that there is a very strong requirement built into the program to prepare an environmental database and environmental impact statements, as well as cooperative agreements between the countries on the Tumen River to preserve the environment in general and the water supplies and the river catchment area in particular. Draft guiding environmental principles will be presented to a management committee next month.

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Already, UNDP has been instrumental in heightening the level of environmental consciousness among participating countries. Certain sensitive wetland areas have been identified and some excluded from development at an early stage. A river-dredging proposal has been discouraged. UNDP has noted an increased commitment by the countries to environmental issues. Unfortunately, the article assumes the worst and makes it fact, instead of searching out the facts. K. G. Singh, New York Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific Development Programme

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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