Quanzhou (AsiaNews/Agencies) – About 500 farmers from several villages in the southern Fujian provinces stormed factories causing high levels of pollution, forcing the plants to shut down. Authorities in Guangzhou city, Fujian, refused to confirm yesterday whether any arrests had been made over the raids.
A Quangang district official said the violence was triggered by local officials' failure over the past few years to monitor the leather industry's compliance with environmental standards. Armed with sticks, the exasperated villagers went on a rampage that lasted more than six hours and destroyed almost all of the factories' facilities. The violence resulted in injuries to a dozen workers, two of whom were in a serious condition, and inflicted economic losses of up to 100 million Yuan (10thousand Euro).
A similar case erupted last year, when other farmers from the same area attacked four factories. The protests came to an end following promises made by the authorities to resolve the problem within four months. The farmers lament that the contaminated waste water pollutes the land and makes the air un-breathable.
Pollution along with forced land requisition are the root causes of almost all rural social protests which take place on an almost daily basis in China. According to the farmers, the authorities do not make sure that the industries respect the imposed limits regarding industrial emissions, because they are corrupt. The central government, which is increasingly concerned by developments, has repeatedly requested that local officials apply the law, but their calls have been in vane.
There are continual problems linked to industrial waste. Yesterday, Hairbin authorities evacuated 5 thousand students and local residents following a Chlorine leak from a local factory contaminated the areas main water supply.