The Taipei City Government said on Tuesday it was seeking NT$5.06 million (US$174,700) in compensation from a contractor for illegally removing roadside trees during the renovation of a Xinyi District (信義) department store.
The contractor was sued after it was found to have removed 32 autumn maple trees near the store without permission.
The city government has demanded six times the original price of each tree in compensation, which means the penalty for removing the largest of the trees, originally priced at NT$54,000, would be NT$324,000.
The city government has also demanded that the contractor keep all trees that were removed alive, suspend work in certain areas of the construction site and replant the site with the same amount and types of grass and flowers within a government-set deadline.
The contractor has agreed to replant the 32 trees in their original spots. However, it is not clear if the trees will survive because they were left for several days to bake in the sun after being uprooted.
City officials said they received a tip-off on Saturday about the trees’ removal and after an inspection of the site reported the case to the police.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) criticized the contractor and said heavy penalties should be imposed.
The contractor was also slapped with a NT$120,000 fine according to the terms of the Building Act (建築法).