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.

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 Somalia's grass-roots start

The Opinion page article "Somalia's Next Step: Restoring Economy," March 25, is an interesting effort to deal with Somalia and its future. But the article deals briefly with the main issues and does not offer valid solutions to a people who have suffered through a civil war and starvation.

So how do we approach the situation and attempt to avoid a repetition of history? I suggest that the country be placed under indefinite United Nations mandate. The country should then begin to rebuild its infrastructure, which is going to take years. We should set up a council of elders, augmented by a second chamber. In coming years the representatives' tasks would be to help guide the council of elders to govern the country. The president, if there is to be a president, would be elected by this council .

The big problem is development. The primary approach should be agricultural restoration and development. Development should involve construction of water catchment areas; water conservation, via ponds and lakes, has to be one of the top priorities.

What we will need in both the UN organization and in the development of Somalia are experienced professionals, not ones who may be nominated merely to get a contract. One of the problems with development projects imposed by agencies is that they become "our" projects and not ones for which the host country feels any obligation to, except to be on the receiving end of funds. Let us start at the grass-roots level. Guy C. Hill, San Diego, Calif. Bosnia: a true test for the world

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the editors of the Monitor for being consistently on the side of the victims in the Bosnian war, and of common sense. In editorial after editorial, the editors of the Monitor have drawn attention to the unbelievable suffering of the Bosnians, to the injustice inherent in the Vance-Owen plan, to the untenability of the Clinton administration's plan to force Serbs to start negotiations by diplomatic means, and to the unacceptable arms embargo on Bosnians that str ip them of their right to self-defense.

This conflict is the true test of where we all stand and what kind of a world we strive for. Serdar Degirmencioglu, Detroit

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