Wed, Jul 20, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Land seizure plans for NE coast anger residents

‘WORSE THAN BANDITS’:Residents said that despite promises they could keep half their land, they would have to sell at NT$1,000 a ping and buy it back at NT$28,000

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

Environmental groups and landowners from the northeast expressed anger at a land expropriation project to make way for hotels.

The project is part of an “action plan for a land amendment to improve the people’s living” originated by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and passed by the Ministry of the Interior’s Construction and Planning Agency last year, which intends to use land in the northeast coastal area for tourism.

Smoothly sloped areas near Hemei Township (和美), Audi Village (澳底) and Fulong Village (福隆), as well as locations in Gongliao District (貢寮) and New Taipei City (新北市), are to be expropriated for development.

The initial plan, outlined in March last year, covered 688.5 hectares of land, including high-quality farmland and wetlands. After provoking strong opposition from local residents, the area was reduced to 102.56 hectares last month, but of that territory, about 88 percent is private land.

Construction alterations by residents were prohibited for nearly three decades because of the area’s designation as the “Northeast Coast Special Scenic Area” in 1982 to preserve the natural scenery and attract tourism.

However, the government is set to alter the use of 64.09 hectares and of that, 8.59 hectares would be reserved for hotel construction.

At a press conference in the legislature yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said the land expropriation project was unreasonable because “the residents have been asked not to make any alterations and helped protect the natural scenery for so long, but now they are forced to leave their land for developers.”

“The government said we could keep 40 percent of our land, but actually we need to buy it back at a higher price,” said Wu Wen-chang (吳文樟), a local resident who participated in the press conference.

“They’d expropriate our land at a price of only a little more than NT$1,000 per ping [3.3m2], but we’d have to buy it back at NT$28,000 per ping — and that would not be our original land,” Wu said.

In addition, Wu said they had learned that the pre-auction price for the corporations that will develop the hotels is NT$150,000 per ping.

“The government comes across as a greater criminal than real bandits,” said another landowner surnamed Wu, saying the government was forcing residents to abandon their land at a discount price.

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