Lake Baikal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (AFP Photo/Eleonore DERMY)More

Moscow (AFP) – A Russian court on Wednesday ruled that a widely-condemned China-backed project to bottle water from Lake Baikal illegally received the go-ahead from authorities.

The plant currently under construction to bottle the waters of the world’s largest lake has proved highly controversial, exacerbated by popular fears of a Chinese “land-grab” in Siberia.

A judge at a district court in the Siberian city of Irkutsk ruled that the official permit for the plant’s construction was “illegal”, TASS state news agency reported from the courtroom.

Judge Natalya Isakova said that the permission was issued on the basis of a positive environmental impact report, which she also ruled was “illegal.”

The ruling came after a petition against the plant

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