A small but increasing number of Chinese citizens are filing lawsuits seeking compensation for the effects of pollution, some of them with help from a recently opened legal-aid center in Beijing, the first such center in the nation to focus on pollution. Many of these cases involve severe river pollution, which kills fish and farm animals and can devastate rural people’s livelihoods. China’s rivers are among the dirtiest in the world, and though the government has enacted some strict anti-pollution laws in the past decade, enforcement is still lax in many places, particularly rural areas.