Tue, Oct 07, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Activists fighting to keep heart of Tucheng green

GOING TOO FAR Environmentalists say Taipei County officials are seeking more land than they need for a development project to help construction firms profit

By Meggie Lu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Environmentalists accused the Taipei County Government yesterday of conspiring with construction companies to ruin 163 hectares of primarily undeveloped land in the heart of Tucheng City (土城).

Activists gathered in front of the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) as an EPA committee prepared to discuss the environmental impact assessment for the Taipei County plans.

The county wants to develop the land for residences and a “judiciary zone,” comprising a prison, a court and a district prosecutor’s office. The area has remained undeveloped because of its proximity to the Tucheng Ammunition Warehouse (土城彈藥庫), a site that used to be a military base before 2006 and was therefore blocked from development.

The county proposes relocating the Taipei Detention Center to the location of the old warehouse from its current site 2.2km away, saying that as Tucheng has grown, the prison is now too central.

As the EPA committee prepared to review the plans, environmentalists said the project would damage the land’s biodiversity.

“Because of its military base status, the land around the former ammunition warehouse remained unspoiled and undeveloped for more than half a century. As such, the area is now home to more than 30 species of rare birds and more than 70 rare plant species, some of which are near extinction elsewhere on the island,” environmentalist Liu Li-lan (劉麗蘭) said.

Liu comes from Tucheng and has lived there for more than 44 years.

“It is too obvious and I am not afraid to say it: The government would only need about 30 hectares for the ‘judiciary zone’ they are building. Why would they seek all 163 hectares? They want to help construction companies [profit on] real estate,” she said.

With a number of government-subsidized eco-tourism farms in the area, this part of Tucheng is “the only place in Greater Taipei you can get to by MRT to see fireflies. Schoolchildren from around here all come for outdoor and ecology lessons,” Liu said.

Furthermore, 33 of Tucheng’s 47 borough chiefs oppose the development plan, she said, calling on the government to listen to the community.

“The area is one-sixth of the area of Tucheng. Even if the public could benefit financially from developing the city, we would still prefer that it is kept as green space,” Liu said. “We are not against all development, we just oppose replacing green land with concrete. Instead, the government can help us develop organic farming, kitchen waste composting and eco-tourism.”

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