Four-rivers challenge shot down in Busan

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Four-rivers challenge shot down in Busan

The Busan Administrative Court yesterday turned down a lawsuit requesting a halt to the government’s project to refurbish the Nakdong River, which runs through the port city.

The ruling, following a similar Seoul Administrative Court ruling on the Han River a week earlier, is seen as a boost for the administration’s controversial four-rivers restoration project.

“The purposes of the project, which are to prevent flooding in the Nakdong River and secure water resources, are legitimate and the features of the project, such as installing reservoirs and dredging river bottoms, are recognized as probable,” said the Busan court. A total of 1,819 people, including citizens and civic group members, filed the suit.

About the claim by the plaintiffs that constructing eight reservoirs in the river will damage the quality of water in the river, the court said water quality is expected to worsen to some extent with the project, but it will not be serious enough to rule the project unlawful.

The court partly admitted a claim that the project has been carried out hastily, citing a three-month environmental impact assessment and unreliable water quality research prior to the project. But the court said that didn’t amount to a breach of the environmental impact assessment law.

Observers said the ruling boosts the chances of the government winning the remaining legal challenges to the 22.2 trillion won ($19.5 billion) four-rivers project. Opponents of the project, including the major opposition Democratic Party, have filed lawsuits with administrative courts in Daejeon and Jeonju to stop the project on the Geum River and Yeongsan River, respectively.

The judge who wrote yesterday’s ruling, Mun Hyeong-bae, served as the head of a group of liberal-minded judges, which makes four-rivers proponents think the remaining cases will be concluded in favor of the government.

By Moon Gwang-lip []
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