The massive landslide on the Formosa Freeway (National Freeway No. 3) that killed at least four people has brought home the urgency of passing a geological bill, as lawmakers across party lines yesterday voiced support for the draft act that would allow the government to survey and publish data about geologically sensitive areas nationwide.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus secretary-general Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) told a press conference that the legislature would speed up the process to pass the draft geology act as soon as possible.
The legislature’s Gazette showed that the legislature passed the Geology Act (地質法) on Jan. 6, 2004, but 42 KMT and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators, including then-KMT legislator Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and then-DPP legislator Chiu Tai-san (邱太三), proposed one week later that the legislature reconsider the act.
The 42 legislators said regulations in the act might overlap those in other laws, such as the Construction Act (建築法) and the Land Preservation Act (水土保持法), and could inconvenience the public because owners of farmland would also be required to submit a geological survey and safety evaluation report to build farmhouses on the land.
The legislature later agreed to reconsider the act and the piece of legislation has been sitting in the legislature ever since.
Lin said that in light of the landslide on Sunday, however, passing the bill was a high priority.
The Executive Yuan passed the latest version of the draft proposal on Feb. 20 and referred the bill to the legislature for review.
The proposal, if passed, would allow the government to designate certain regions as “geologically sensitive areas” and require all developers to conduct geological surveys and safety assessments before proceeding with construction.
The draft would also allow the government to establish a national geological survey mechanism and require that the government update relevant information.
“Every piece of geological information should be considered national property. We hope to manage the data [at the central government] and allow everyone to use the data [by following due procedure],” Central Geological Survey Director-General Tsao Shu-chung (曹恕中) told the conference.
Lin also asked the government to make a thorough assessment of dip slopes — geological formations often created by the erosion of tilted strata — on national, provincial and county roads and residential areas.
Tsao said that for large-scale sensitive areas, the government could install strain measuring instruments to monitor land changes and take preventive measures. For small-scale sensitive areas, the government could reinforce existing structures.
Installation of the devices, however, would have to take cost into consideration, Tsai said.
Also pledging its support for the proposed bill, the DPP caucus said it hoped cross-party consensus could speed up the process, adding that such a consensus would be needed to prevent prominent developers from attempting to influence the proposed act.
Sunday’s tragedy exemplified the need to finish negotiations quickly, DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said.
Meanwhile, the Taipei City Government said 30 out of the city’s 135 listed residential communities on slopes were near dip slopes. Officials urged the public to check the Internet for related information.
The Ministry of the Interior's Construction and Planning Agency said there should be a law on the publication of related information, but conceded it would trigger controversy as it would include private property.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VINCENT Y. CHAO AND CNA
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