Shiga residents lose lawsuit to block dam on Chaya River


The Otsu District Court on Monday rejected a lawsuit filed by 50 local residents requesting the cancellation of a dam construction project by the agriculture ministry in Eigenji, Shiga Prefecture.

The agriculture ministry decided in 1994 to construct the dam to meet projected irrigation shortages. Costs were initially estimated at 47.6 billion yen.

The dam is to be built on the Chaya River, a tributary of the Echi River. A dam built in 1972 already exists just 12 km downstream.

The ministry’s forecast of increased irrigation needs is invalid, the plaintiffs said, because the amount of farmland in the area has since fallen.

The project is not economical compared with other irrigation methods, they said, adding the total cost has ballooned from initial estimates to 50.6 billion yen.

The ministry meanwhile insisted on the dam’s necessity, claiming it will be more economical in the long run.

But an advisory panel to the Kinki Regional Agricultural Administration Office proposed in August that the dam project be reviewed, and focus shifted to how the judiciary would rule on the matter.

Judge Masanori Kanki ruled that the ministry did not overstep its authority and that the plan is within the bounds of economic feasibility parameters.