In court

Monday 15 September 2003

wall stalled: A mid-level court in South Korea has stayed further work on the Saemangeum Sea Wall which, upon completion, would be the world's largest coastal drainage project. More than 3500 citizens and local environmental groups had earlier filed a case against the proposed structure.

Conservationists contend that construction of the 33-kilometre-long embankment along the Yellow Sea can prove disastrous for fishing activity and bird life in the region. Significantly, the wetlands are a spawning ground for the highest fish diversity in South Korea. In fact, the livelihoods of 25,000 Korean fisherfolk depend on them. The proposed sea wall would also block 30,000 hectares of tidal mudflats, which are an important habitat for several endangered bird species.

Interestingly, the government is divided over the issue. Whereas the fishing and environment ministries consider the project economically and environmentally unfeasible, the agriculture ministry -- desperate to increase the area under cultivation -- is in favour of reclaiming land from the sea. The project is 90 per cent complete and the court is expected to deliver its final verdict within the next couple of months.

palliatives sought: The Supreme Court has asked the Union and state governments as well as the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to furnish details about facilities provided to AIDS patients in India by the public health system. The court was responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by Chandigarh-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) Voluntary Health Association of Punjab.

The plaintiff alleged that patients of the dreaded disease are not treated in government hospitals and are just "left to die". Quoting Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life to every citizen, the PIL stated that AIDS patients are entitled to medical aid -- including necessary drugs, treatment and other facilities -- from the government.

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