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Court backs farmers over river scheme

Ruling boosts environmental case against major dam project

Court backs farmers over river scheme
Children of the organic farmers use sleds on the frozen Han River near Paldang (Photo courtesy of Paldang special committee)
Stephen Hong, Seoul

February 16, 2011

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The fight against the South Korea government’s controversial Four Rivers project received a boost yesterday after a court found in favor of protesters for the first time. In a number of previous cases the Suwon district court had sided with the government, but yesterday it sided with a group of organic farmers angry at what they say was the seizure of land to be used for the huge waterway scheme. “Farmers who respect the value of life and land have won a great victory,” said Catholic activist Augustine Maeng Joo-hyung. “Justice and impartiality still exist in the judiciary,” the coordinator of the Catholic Solidarity for Deterrence of Four Major Rivers Project said. The farmers had been making a living through organic farming in Paldang on the banks of the Han river in Seoul for 30 years. That changed in March last year when the government said it wanted the farmland along the river for the project. However the court ruling said: “The purpose of the project is less important than the farmers’ right to use the farm.” Bang Chun-bae, secretary general of the Paldang special committee against the project, said the ruling put the brakes on “the government's drive to enforce the impractical project.” Related report Candlelight rally protests river project KO13313.1641
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