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Resumption of the Saemangeum Project

Posted January. 29, 2004 22:25,   


The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s complaint against the Seoul Administration Court’s injunction of the Saemangeum land reclamation project was registered yesterday, resulting in a “go-a-head” for the reclamation project.

Lee Young-ae, a presiding judge in Seoul High Court, overruled the injunction yesterday at the first stage in the trial of provisional disposition of the injunction appealed by Saemangeum residents and Choi Yerl from the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement against the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF). The Department of Justice concluded that the Saemangeum project’s suspension order was unreasonable.

The judgment stated, “It is unclear how much and in what ways the plaintiff is deprived of environmental profit. The violation of the merits due to the embankment work is not so big that it cannot be rewarded afterwards by money, as well.”

The justice went on to say, “The construction of the 2.7 km water barrier in the 33 km embankment was due to begin in November 2005. Thus, there are no reasons for an immediate prohibition of the tide embankment construction.” He added, “If the construction was to be stopped, a huge government activity will be delayed, and there exists a danger of the embankment collapsing, thus it is a massive hit on public welfare.”

Attorney Kim Ho-chul from the Ecology Law Center is determined to re-file the complaint as he said, “We do not smile or cry by the court’s judgment, however, it seems as though the judge has a misunderstanding. Much public wealth will be violated by the construction.”

The Saemangeum reclamation project started in 1991, and the construction of 30.3 km of the 33 km barrier is now complete, showing a 91.8 percent progress rate. However, the project was stopped due to SAC’s injunction last July.

Nonetheless, reinforcement work was done to the already constructed embankment and the construction of the rest of the dam is due to start next November. Therefore yesterday’s decision does not bring an immediate change, it just means that the court accepted the construction to continue.

On the other hand, MAF announced, “This decision elucidates the Supreme Court of Korea’s position of the scheduled project to continue and be completed on time. We will do our best for the development to be an environment friendly one by asking for opinions of environment groups.” The first trial of the appeal against the suspension of the project mooring in SAC is to be scheduled in April after two witness examinations.

Soo-Kyung Kim skkim@donga.com