Sat, Mar 13, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Demonstrators slam government plans to build new dams

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Activists protest yesterday outside the legislature against government plans to build dams and dikes. The protesters said the government should leave water catchment areas fallow and place restrictions on logging to improve water quality.

PHOTO: CNA

Anti-dam protesters from central and southern Taiwan yesterday urged the government to stop all work on new reservoirs in their hometowns, saying construction would cause irreversible damage to the local ecosystem.

“What we are asking from the government is the chance to survive. All we want to do is protect our homeland and families from flooding and other catastrophes,” said Lai Mei-ching (賴美清), a longtime resident of Jianshih Township (尖石) in Hsinchu County and a member of the Atayal tribe.

Lai said the government's plan to build Bilin Reservoir (比麟水庫) and Kaotai Reservoir (高台水庫) means that more than 5,000 villagers, including her family, would be forcibly relocated.

She said construction would also have a negative impact on the local landscape.

In addition, she said, local residents would not reap any benefit from the two reservoirs because they would cater only to the water needs of the Hsinchu Science Park.

Anti-Pingsi Dam Alliance president Lin Seng-jen (林森仁) said the government would not need to spend billions of dollars building dams if it fixed other problems, such as leakage.

Lin said the global average of water loss between reservoirs and household taps was 18 percent. However, in Taiwan, this was significantly higher at 22 percent. Keelung City, in particular, suffers a loss of about 37 percent.

If the water company spent a fraction of the money intended for these projects fixing the leakage problem, it would not have to construct a dam that will put local residents at risk of flooding and mudslides if another storm like Typhoon Morakot — which killed more than 500 people in the south Taiwan last August — hits the nation, he said.

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