Thu, Dec 31, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Taipei halts urban renewal project over explosives

AFTER THE FACT The city discovered in 2007 that explosives and detonators had been buried 60m underground in Muzha during flooding in 1984

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday said he would halt a urban renewal project on Muzha Road Sec. 5, two years after the city learned that explosives had been found 60m underground on the site.

The project, on 16 hectares near the Taipei Zoo, was proposed in 2004 when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was mayor of Taipei. The city government didn’t learn about the explosives until 2007, when it began to put together the plots of land for the project.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City Councilor Lee Ching-feng (李慶鋒) and Independent Councilor Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) condemned the city government yesterday for wasting NT$3.3 billion (US$102 million) over the past six years and ignoring the rights of local residents who have been unable to renovate their homes during that time.

“The project has been put off for six years, and local residents are living in fear and uncertainty. The city government should resolve the problem as soon as possible and stop wasting taxpayers’ money,” Lee said at the Taipei City Council.

Lee said 125kg of explosives as well as detonators were buried after a coal mining company was flooded by a typhoon in 1984.

Taipei City Government spokesman Chao Hsin-ping (趙心屏) said the city had invited experts and government agencies to discuss the issue last year, and the experts said the explosives should pose no immediate danger to local residents.

Hau said experts would be invited to inspect the geology of the area and the urban renewal project would be halted indefinitely until the safety of the area could be confirmed. The city government applied to the Ministry of the Interior in August to delay construction, he said.

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