A Chinese farmer in his 60’s won the first round of a court case after suing a chemical company for polluting his land.
Wang Enlin spent 16 years studying law by himself in order to sue state-owned Qihua Group, who has assets exceeding 2 billion yuan, for dumping chemical waste on his land since 2001.
Enlin says that the pollution began in 2001 when Qihua Group flooded his village with toxic waste. He was at a friend’s house on the eve of the Lunar New Year when the house began to flood. Part of the farmland nearby was also flooded by the toxic waste coming from a Qihua factory close to the village, which makes its living on agriculture.
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A government document dated in 2001 claimed that the pollution made it to where the land could “not be used for a long time.” It’s alleged that the company continued to dump waste on the land between 2001 and 2016. Qihua dumps around 15,000 to 20,000 tons of waste every year.
It’s reported that Qihua has produced a 71-acre wasteland with calcium carbide residue and a 478-acre pond with its liquid waste.
Though Enlin filed a complaint against the company in 2001, he was met with questions from the local government about any evidence he had to support his claim.
“I knew I was in the right, but I did not know what law the other party had broken or whether or not there was evidence.”
That was when Enlin decided to take the matter into his own hands. The farmer, who dropped out of school after only three years, started to study law own his own with the help of law books and a dictionary.
Because Enlin didn’t have the resources to buy the books, he offered a bookstore free corn to let him stay in the store reading the books. He copied any material he though would be useful in his case.
The farmer helped his neighbors whose land had also been polluted by the toxic waste.
A Chinese law firm that specialized in cases involving pollution offered to help Enlin and others in the village with filing a petition to the court. The court however did not begin processing the case until 8 years later in 2015.
Using the evidence the farmer gathered since 2001, Enlin won the first round. The date was not specified in the report.
As ordered by The Angangxi District Court of Qiqihar, Qihua had to give 820,000 yuan to Enlin and others in the village as compensation.
Qihua Group has appealed the court decision but Enlin is confident that he will ultimately win the case.
“We will certainly win. Even if we lose, we will continue to battle.”