January 17, 2005 18:39
The Seoul Administration Court on Monday ordered a halt to the controversial Saemangum land reclamation project while the government re-examines its purpose and efficacy but stopped short of scrapping the project.
Environmental groups including the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement had filed a lawsuit against the government and the minister of agriculture, seeking suspension of the project.
The court ruled the government must re-examine the project before resuming work. The Saemangum project was launched in 1991 to reclaim land at the mouths of two rivers in Gunsan and Kimje, North Jeolla Province, by building a seawall in order to turn mudflats into farmland and a fresh water lake.
While less than 50 percent of the project has been completed, the bench declined to scrap the project, saying it was unreasonable to demolish an already built embankment.
Instead it proposed a committee either under the National Assembly or the presidential office to negotiate a settlement with a view to preventing the project from failing like the earlier Shihwa Lake project. The committee is to consist of experts recommended by environmental groups and the government.
(Geum Won-seop, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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