A lawsuit filed by residents of a Chinese town against a chemical plant that they say is responsible for high levels of lead in the blood of local children is shaping up as a test of the central government's resolve to tackle pollution.
Of the more than 50 residents from in and around the rural town of Dapu in central Hunan province who originally agreed to join the lawsuit, only 11 remain, their lawyer, Dai Renhui, told Reuters. Hu Shaobo, another lawyer advising on the case, said some plaintiffs had withdrawn under pressure from local government officials.
The lawsuit, described by lawyers as one of the first of its kind to be accepted by a Chinese court, is scheduled to be heard next month. The plaintiffs are seeking compensation, although Dai declined to say if they had agreed on an amount.
China has declared "war on pollution" in the wake of mounting discontent over a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has spoiled much of the country's water, skies and soil.
A revised environmental protection law that came into effect in January raised penalties for polluters and enabled environmental groups to file public interest lawsuits.