Residents kick up stink over noisy wet market
Tom Mitchell in Guangzhou
A dozen residents of Wende Plaza, an upmarket residential development in Guangzhou, shouted to make their complaints heard over the growing din.
In the mid-afternoon heat, the source of their ire wafted about them: the stench of poultry, fish and pork from the Zhuguang wet market.
The market, the largest of its kind in Guangzhou, was relocated to the first two floors of Wende Plaza in October 2000. Since then residents have complained of the market's stench and noise.
'We live on the 16th floor but can still smell it,' said resident Lu Aijuan during the protest on Friday. 'And there are lots of flies and mosquitoes.'
Last week, 600 households from Wende Plaza representing more than 2,000 people took the unusual step of suing the Guangzhou municipal Government's planning commission for moving the formerly open-air Zhuguang market into their building.
They are requesting that the Yuexiu District People's Court order the commission to move the market to another location.
If successful, the suit could offer a rare precedent for urban residents to use the judicial system as a check on the municipal Government.
After nine months of appeals to the planning commission and the municipal People's Congress went unanswered, in September last year Wende Plaza's residents lodged a suit in the Dongshan District People's Court.
'We don't have much money. Most of us used up our savings to buy our flats,' said resident Zhang Shaoqing, who added that she and her fellow residents paid between 700,000 yuan (HK$658,000) and one million yuan for their units.
'But luckily one of our neighbours is a lawyer and can represent us.'
The residents' first suit was thrown out on a jurisdictional technicality. Although Wende Plaza is in Dongshan district, they were told they had to lodge their suit in Yuexiu district, where the planning commission has its offices.
The hearing in the Yuexiu District People's Court is now scheduled for June 20.
Chen Sufang, of Wendexing Enterprises Ltd, which manages the wet market, defended its operations.
'This area of the city is densely populated. The wet market serves 10,000 people every day. If it were moved many more people would be inconvenienced,' he said.
He said his company had taken steps to lessen the nuisance caused by the market, such as reducing its live-poultry stalls from several dozen to nine.