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Legal Dispute Surrounding the Saemangum Project Likely to be Prolonged

Legal Dispute Surrounding the Saemangum Project Likely to be Prolonged

Posted February. 06, 2005 22:34,   


The government has decided to appeal to the High Court, defying the ruling of the Seoul Administration Court that it should cancel or change its Saemangum reclamation project. Signs are that the legal dispute between the government and environmental protection groups surrounding the Saemangum project will get prolonged.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry noted on February 6 that it would appeal to the Seoul High Court, as it cannot accept the court’s recommendation that it dispose of or change its reclamation license regarding the project.

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Lee Myung-soo said on that morning in a press conference in the Gwacheon Government Complex, “It is hard to see there are grave reasons to cancel or change our reclamation license, though it is true that there are ongoing disputes over the main purpose of the Saemangum project.”

The ministry added that it sees no reason to change its original plan, now that the project’s main purpose, which is the creation of farmland, has not changed, and water quality in the region is getting better gradually.

Deputy minister Lee explained, “We will formulate specific usage plans by collecting ideas from every field expert after national territory researchers issue the results of their study on the plans for reclaimed Saemangum land in June or July.”

In regard to this, the plaintiffs, including environmental protection groups, have agreed to apply to the High Court for a provisional injunction of suspension of effect regarding the government’s plan, which the court of the first instance ruled should be cancelled or changed.

Independently of this action, the plaintiffs also intend to apply to the Seoul District Court for a provisional injunction consisting of a construction halt

under the Civil Proceedings Act so that the government cannot start constructing tide embankments, which is scheduled for December 2005.

It is expected that it will take quite long for the court to try the original case and the two applications for provisional injunction due to the conflicting stances of the government and environmental groups. This is because it is hard to expect the court will conclude its trial of the original case soon, provided that the court of the first instance issued its ruling about three years after it started hearing the case.

The government began its Saemangum construction efforts back in 1991, and its plans included building a 33 kilometer-long tidal embankment off the coast from Gunsan to Buan, North Jeolla Province, to create 120 million pyeong of farmland and freshwater lakes, around 140 times larger than the Yeouido area (one pyeong is equivalent to 3.954 square yards.) Ninety two percent of the whole process is done presently, and only a 2.7 kilometer-long construction project along the bank is left.

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