Supreme Court Clears Way for Mt.Cheonseong Tunnel

    June 02, 2006 20:42

    Buddhists pray for the activist nun Ji-yul after she launched a hunger strike against a bullet-train tunnel through Mt. Chunseong early last year.
    The Supreme Court on Friday declined to issue an injunction against a bullet-train tunnel through Mt. Cheonseong in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province. The original application was filed by the activist nun Ji-yul, who ended a 100-day hunger strike against the tunnel last year when the government promised to review the matter.

    The court rejected an appeal filed by two Buddhist temples and a civil organization calling itself Friends of Salamanders, after the animals that live on the mountain, against the Korea Rail Network Authority to stop the Wonhyo Tunnel project.

    That clears the final hurdle for the long-delayed 13.2 km tunnel to be built. The standoff lasted two years and eight months and included the nun’s much-publicized hunger strike.

    “A thorough examination by the Korean Society of Engineering Geology and other institutes reveals that the project will have no major impact on the environment at Mt. Cheongseong, and applicants’ environmental interests cannot therefore be said to be in danger,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling.

    The original filing included the salamanders among applicants, but the court was unperturbed. “Salamanders, as natural creatures, have no standing,” it ruled.

    Ji-yul told reporters she was disappointed with the ruling. “I hoped that this case would see the losers win and the winners make concessions to the losers, but this was not the case,” she said. She lamented the absence of “human warmth” in the verdict and vowed to continue independent research to find out the damage the project does to the mountain and seek other legal actions to stop the project”.

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