Facing criticism for accepting a donation of NT$1 billion (US$34.6 million) from accident-prone Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) last month, Yunlin County Government on Thursday said a portion of the money would be used to organize an agricultural fair as part of the county’s effort to develop sustainable agriculture.
Yunlin County Deputy Commissioner Lin Yuan-chuan (林源泉) showed a still-in-progress blueprint of Huwei park, which will host the agricultural fair, adding that the local government would also arrange for exhibitions in each of the county’s 20 townships.
The county hopes to organize a farm produce fair in 2013 based on environmentally friendly concepts and use the event to promote its effort to create a sustainable and healthy future, Lin said.
The county would like to show that “agriculture is the smart way of living that produces the lowest carbon footprint,” he said.
Lin said that the problems with land subsidence along the route of the high-speed rail and a series of safety incidents at FPG’s petrochemical complex had prompted the county to rethink issues such as water resource allocation, land ethics, public health and the balanced development of industries.
Lin said the fair is scheduled to open in November 2013 and will run for three to five months. The main exhibition center will be built on the land that was originally set aside to house the high-speed rail’s Huwei Station.
Exhibitions will also be held in Kouhu, Dounan, Douliou, Silou and Taisi.
The county said earlier this month that part of the donation would be used to build a puppetry cultural center, which would replace the main exhibition center after the fair closes.
Lin said that the county was forced to show the incomplete blueprint because of accusations that the donation was meant to sway the county government from its duties of monitoring industrial safety at FPG’s accident-plagued complex in Mailiao Township (麥寮).
He said on Wednesday that the money would be used to develop a low-carbon agricultural industry, an initiative that should not be confused with compensation for residents living near the complex.
The designated purpose of the donation cannot be changed, but fund allocation will be transparent, Lin said.
FPG’s petrochemical complex has had seven fires over the past year, prompting the local government in June to order a shutdown of all the plants that had been hit by blazes.
The county further ordered the company to suspend operations at the remaining production facilities in the compound in stages for safety inspections.
Earlier this week, Yunlin County Commissioner Su Chih-fen (蘇治芬) even proposed that FPG pull out of the county and return the land.
The NT$1 billion donation by FPG has drawn criticism from both Yunlin County councilors and residents.
Residents from several villages in the county staged a protest in front of the county’s office on Wednesday.
The protestors said that the cash contribution should be used on projects that would be beneficial to them as compensation for polluting their living environment.