Thu, Jun 14, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Protesters attempt to save Taipei's Grass Plant Trail

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Residents and nature enthusiasts protested yesterday against a construction project which they claim would destroy the ecosystem of the Grass Plant Trail (中埔山步道) in southern Taipei and urged the Taipei City Government to save the area.

With its green trail and precious creatures, including fireflies and the Taiwanese blue magpie, the trail -- located near the Xinhai Tunnel (辛亥隧道) -- was described as the last green diamond in southern Taipei, the Grass Plant Trail Association said.

Liu Shu-hsien (劉淑嫻), director of the association, said yesterday that a construction project involving eight buildings at the entrance of the trail risked damaging the ecosystem around the trail and possibly even expose residents to flooding and landslides.

"The city government cannot allow the construction company to ruin a mountain for buildings that will cost NT$400,000 per ping [US$3,700 per square meter]," Liu said.

During the protest, Chu Tien-hsin (朱天心), a writer and a local resident, said the area had experienced a landslide last year when Typhoon Xangsane hit and that similar disasters could happen in future if the construction project further damaged the environment.

Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chia-chin (徐佳青) of the Democratic Progressive Party lashed out at the city government for failing to preserve the trail, urging it to refrain from granting a construction permit to the company.

In response, division chief at Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs Teng Wen-tsung (鄧文宗) said that the department would seek to list the trail as a historical site, a designation that would ensure it is well protected.

The Taipei City Department of Economic Development said it would carefully evaluate the company's construction plan and conduct an environmental impact assessment and a safety review.

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