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China: Around The Nation

Chinese farmer who studied law to sue state-owned enterprise wins first round

Court rules in favour of village in 16-year battle against chemical waste dumping

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 February, 2017, 6:18pm
UPDATED : Friday, 03 February, 2017, 6:18pm

A farmer who studied law to fight a state-owned enterprise he believed was polluting his village has won the first step of a 16-year battle.

Wang Enlin, who left school in Grade 3 of primary education, spent the past 16 years suing Qihua Group, a state-owned enterprise, for dumping chemical waste on farmland in his village in Heilongjiang, Xinhua reported.

The court ruled in favour of the village and the company has cleaned up the obvious waste and taken it back to its industrial site. The court case said that for 16 years, the production plant dumped an average of 20,000 tonnes of chemical waste each year on farmland that covered more than 70 acres.

The chemical waste, in both solid and liquid form, also contaminated the water in a nearby lake, the suit contended. According to Xinhua, the villagers said the lake water had become sterile, tranquil and almost completely devoid of life.

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Wang, who is a farmer, was personally affected by the contamination. He said that, at Lunar New Year in 2001, the dumping of chemical waste by the plant was so excessive that liquid chemical waste flooded his house, along with those of many other villagers.

Wang then started studying law and searching for ways to fight for the rights of himself and his fellow villagers. He met with strong resistance in his battle with Qihua and was unable to file the case until January 2015.

After the first hearing, the court ordered Qihua Group to get rid of the chemical waste on the land and pay compensation of a total 820,000 yuan (US$119,145) to the 55 families involved.

Wang said the victory was most important for the principle of the farmers having stood up for their rights, as the compensation would only amount to less than 15,000 yuan for each family.

The report said Qihua Group has filed an appeal of the court ruling.