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Tue, Mar 20, 2001 - Page 3 News List

NTU slams government over school relocation plan

By Chuang Chi-ting  /  STAFF REPORTER

Professors and staff from National Taiwan University (NTU) yesterday blasted the Ministry of Education for being reckless in its decision to reconsider moving a primary school damaged in the 921 earthquake to forest land under the university's administration.

The government has favored reconstructing Neihu Elementary School (內湖國小) in Nantou at Yushuikeng (有水坑), a plot of government-owned forest land currently under the care of NTU's Experimental Forest Administration.

The university, after it previously rejected the government's decision, was criticized by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) as having been "unkind" to the elementary school's students.

Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠), vice minister of education, added to the attack, saying that the ministry and local villagers were "fed up with the lack of cooperation from the university."

KMT lawmaker Huang Hsien-chou (黃顯洲) held a press conference with professors and accused the Ministry of Education of trying to shift the blame for slow earthquake reconstruction work away from the DPP government and onto NTU.

The ministry has decided to conduct a more comprehensive evaluation on the use of the land in two months to settle the dispute.

NTU staff and professors yesterday claimed again that the university was simply concerned about the safety of the students and said it had been wrongly accused.

Liu Tsung-kwei (劉聰桂), chairman of geosciences at the university, emphasized that the Yushuikeng land is composed of colluvium soil.

Liu and Huang Hung-bin (黃弘彬), an agricultural engineering professor at NTU, explained that this type of soil had been deposited by previous mudslides and that more slides might occur.

Wang Ya-nan (王亞男), director of the forest administration, said she assumes that the education ministry is not interested in looking at safer sites on privately owned lands that have been proposed by the forest administration because it doesn't want pay compensation to the owners.

Wang also said it might not be worth cutting down the forest simply for the purpose of relocating the school.

Tsai Kuang-jueng (蔡光榮), professor of civil engineering from National Pintung University of Science and Technology (屏科大), who was involved in the ministry's previous discussions, said that the ministry has taken the concerns raised by NTU professors into account and will have another evaluation carried out soon by a third party.

He said the ministry is considering controls to cope with mudslide risks.

Another options being considered is building smaller wooden cabins instead of high buildings to allow the school to safely stand as a "forest education institution."

Tsai said he thinks that it would be a good idea to rebuild the school as a valuable lesson to illustrate how humans can deal with the aftermath of earthquakes and co-exist with the environment.

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