Fri, Jun 18, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Activists demand public debate on cable-car plan

MOUNTAIN LOVERS An environmental group slammed the government's plan to build cable cars, saying that the plan was unsafe, unsound and terrible for nature

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government is clinging obstinately to archaic development plans without keeping abreast of the latest developments in ecotourism, environmentalists said yesterday, demanding a public debate on a plan recently drafted by the Council for Economic Planning and Development to build cable cars on mountains.

At the Legislative Yuan yesterday, activists handed over invitations to a debate to representatives of the council, which finished drafting the plan last month.

"The government must not only clarify the goals of its policies, but also provide opportunities for the public to discuss means of implementing the policies," Chou Ju (周儒), a environmental education professor from National Taiwan Normal University, said.

Chou said that people's intimacy with nature did not have to grow on the tops of high mountains.

"Being given correct ecological knowledge, people can access Mother Nature less intrusively and enjoy its beauty in diverse places, ranging from backyards to national parks," Chou said.

`ignorant'

The invitations came after a demonstration organized by the Anti-Cable Car Union (愛山林反纜車聯盟) -- which is composed of students from National Taiwan Normal University, as well as other schools -- on May 30, when about 300 "mountain lovers" voiced their opposition against cable car projects in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei.

The council's draft calls for cable car projects -- together projected to cost about NT$3 billion (US$91 million) -- on mountains higher than 3,000m, including Jade Mountain, Snow Mountain, Hohuan Mountain and Nanhu Mountain. They would make it easier for tourists to visit sensitive areas in three national parks. The number of visitors traveling to those parks each year is projected to rise from 5 million to 8 million. The draft has been forwarded to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which is expected to make a final decision soon to act on it or not.

After the demonstration, council Vice Chairman Chang Ching-sen (張景森) published articles in several Chinese-language newspapers, saying that the activists "are ignorant and immature."

no proof

Chang also said that cable cars had been described by the UN Mountain Agenda as one of the most environment-friendly approaches to mountain traffic, and many countries use them.

Some activists said that Chang, a promising political star working for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), had let his power go to his head and had become too arrogant.

Chen Huei-tsyr (陳慧慈), a civil engineering professor from National Central University, said that different geological and weather conditions affect the stability and construction of cable cars.

"Unfortunately, we don't see solid proof supporting the safety the government claimed in the draft," Chen said.

Lee Yung-jaan (李永展), professor at Chinese Culture University's department of architecture and urban planning, said a public debate on the plan might save ecologically fragile national parks from being damaged by the establishment of a total of 114 giant pylons for four cable-car projects.

Chen Ming-chuan (陳銘傳), a senior specialist from the council, received the invitation for a public debate from activists, saying that the council would listen to what activists said, but it remains uncommitted to a public debate.

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