Thu, May 09, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Control Yuan censures agencies over drought

PLACING BLAME The Control Yuan said three government agencies failed to heed early warnings of an impending drought, exacerbating the current nationwide crisis


The slow response of three government agencies to drought warnings in February and early March resulted in a censure from the Control Yuan yesterday.

The Control Yuan said that the Water Resource Agency, the Taiwan Water Supply Corp and the National Science Council's Science-based Industrial Park Administration failed to manage, develop and protect water resources.

The investigation report by Control Yuan members Chao Chang-ping (趙昌平) and Lin Shih-chi (林時機) also cited the three agencies for rushing to announce fallow projects and being slow to initiate drought-emergency measures.

Investigators found that some officials ignored early drought warnings from their subordinates in January and delayed handling related documents for 36 days. The delay left the Council of Agriculture (COA) with no time to react when a fallow project was announced on Feb. 27 to offset a water shortage at the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park.

"Some officials obviously misjudged the seriousness of the water shortage," Lin said yesterday.

Chao and Lin also said that water resources officials should have accounted for the fact that Taiwan frequently recieves little rainfall between November and February.

Chao and Lin concluded that mismanagement exacerbated the water shortages, leading to the nationwide drought.

The investigation report also says that the agencies should conduct internal reviews, as they lack early-warning systems for drought and suffer from poor interdepartmental communication.

In addition, the Control Yuan yesterday asked water-resources related agencies under the Cabinet to report at a meeting on May 21 on drought-emergency measures and precautions that have been taken.

Getting soaked

* The Water Resource Agency, the Taiwan Water Supply Corp and the National Science Council's Science-based Industrial Park Administration were censured for failing to manage, develop and protect water resources.

* They were also cited for responding too slowly to drought warnings.

* Investigators found that some officials ignored warnings in January from their subordinates.

Premier Yu Shyi-kun said yesterday that he would respect the Control Yuan's findings and that he would look into the related charges carefully.

"On the drought emergency measures issue, however, I don't think the Executive Yuan has ever acted inappropriately," Yu said.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet's disaster-relief center will conduct a meeting today to review the current rationing measures and discuss future strategies.

Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪), executive-general of the center, said yesterday that rotating water cut-offs are being mulled for Northern Taiwan beginning this weekend.

"We might leave one and half days during each weekend with no water supply," said Kuo, adding a final decision would be made at today's meeting.

Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), however, expressed his strong disapproval of the plan, saying that the city would carry out rationing measures based on its own evaluation.

"There are safety concerns over the plan, because if water was cut to the city, we would lack the ability even to fight fires," Tsay Huei-sheng (蔡輝昇), director of the Taipei Water Department, said after a meeting on managing water resources.

Yesterday, northern Taiwan received a little rainfall, including the area near the Shihmen Dam (石門水庫) in Taoyuan County. However, as of yesterday, the reservoir was at only 5.16 percent of capacity.

The Central Weather Bureau said yesterday that rainfall is forecast for Saturday and that heavy rains are expected to arrive on May 16 or May 17, which could bring some relief.

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