Thousands of Nicaraguans have marched to oppose a planned interoceanic canal that critics say threatens to displace rural communities and damage the environment.

Activist Francisca Ramirez tells The Associated Press by phone that protesters want authorities to respect their land rights.

Farmers' group leader Jose Chavarria told Corporacion radio Friday that anti-canal forces will keep fighting to overturn the canal concession that was granted in 2014 to a Chinese businessman.

The proposal envisions a 171-mile (276-kilometer) waterway between the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, passing through Lake Nicaragua.

Nicaragua's government calculates it will cost $50 billion and create 50,000 direct jobs.

Business groups say the estimated 7,000 families living in the canal's route will be allowed to negotiate for compensation for their homes, for relocation or for a land-swap.