(CNN) The sun cuts across Lake Nicaragua, casting shadows across lush flora and brightly colored boats.
Rowing in unison, two girls paddle a canoe to school.
Life on Lake Nicaragua is peaceful, rustic and isolated, but this could change with the pending completion of a canal that builders are likening to Panama’s famed waterway.
Headed by Hong Kong-based consortium HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Company (HKND), the $50 billion Nicaragua Canal (also called the Nicaragua Grand Canal and Interoceanic Canal) would create a gargantuan new shipping route through Nicaragua by connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
HKND was granted a 50-year concession by the Nicaraguan government in 2013 to build and operate the 278-kilometer (172 miles) canal, reportedly with the option for an extension.
Construction will run from the Rio Punta Gorda on the Caribbean Coast to Brito on the Pacific.
At up to 1,700 feet wide and 90 feet deep, the canal, if completed, will be deeper and wider than the Panama Canal.
HKND announced the start of construction of the canal with a ceremony on December 22, 2014.
The canal will run through Lake Nicaragua (among other areas), Central America’s largest lake and freshwater reservoir, which not only preserves an integral part of Nicaragua’s ecosystem, but directly supports numerous communities.
By some estimates, 30,000 people will have to be relocated to carve a path for the canal.
The prospect is nothing short of alarming for those living in the area, and those who cherish its untouched splendor.
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