Sun, Feb 05, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Aborigines protest delay in relocation

HOMELAND:Officials said that they were not delaying the process; rather the area to be used for resettlement was a geologically sensitive location that needed to be investigated

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff Reporter

Tsou Aborigines from Laiji Village (來吉) in Alishan Township (阿里山), Chiayi County, yesterday petitioned the Control Yuan, protesting the county government’s long delay in granting permission for villagers to be resettled on government-owned land after their village was devastated by Typhoon Morakot in 2009.

Although it has been more than two years since Morakot hit the county with torrential rainfall that triggered mudslides in mountainous areas, hundreds of Laiji residents still do not have a place to call home.

“After the typhoon, our village was officially classified as ‘geologically unsafe,’ and has been under constant threat of further landslides in the event of heavy rainfall,” village chief Avai e’ Akuyana said as villagers rallied outside the Control Yuan.

“We want to be resettled on Forestry Land plot No. 152 — which is part of our traditional ancestral domain — but the county government is taking its time to assess and grant permission for our relocation request,” Akayuna said.

Whenever weather conditions have posed a potential risk to residents over the past two years, “all 300 Laiji villagers have been forcibly evacuated to safer locations, and the many police officers and military personnel involved in the evacuations consider us a nuisance,” he said.

“We are tired of having to evacuate all the time more than two years after the typhoon, we want a safe and stable place to live right now,” Akuyana said.

He added that villagers were worried the resettlement plan would be stopped when the Morakot Reconstruction Act (莫拉克風災重建條例) expires in August.

Laiji Village Self-Help Organization vice-chairwoman Chen Mei-hui (陳美惠) said they petitioned the Control Yuan because they want it to launch a probe into Chiayi County Government’s role in delaying the review process.

“A lot of villagers are suffering psychologically because they do not have a place to call home and, at the same time, we all have to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice,” Chen said. “I know that a lot of women have to depend on sleeping pills to get to sleep at night.”

Chiayi County official Chen Hung-chi (陳宏基), who is in charge of a task force for post-Morakot reconstruction, rebutted the accusations.

“We are not delaying the process, it’s just that Forestry Land plot No. 152 is also a geologically sensitive location, and we need more time to investigate,” he said.

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