About 200 residents of Changhua County’s Yuanlin Township (員林) rallied outside the Ministry of the Interior in Taipei yesterday morning, asking it for help after the county government asked them to pay millions of New Taiwan dollars to buy back their land after an urban renewal project.
“[Changhua County Commissioner] Cho Po-yuan’s (卓伯源) urban renewal has made me indebted! I want to survive!” about 200 Yuanlin residents chanted as they waved banners and placards outside the ministry’s building in Taipei.
A woman surnamed Chiang (江) tearfully said that to get her 66 ping (218m2) piece of land in full, she has to pay NT$2 million (US$66,730).
“I’m in my 60s, my husband suffers from a stroke and both of my sons are handicapped,” she said. “It’s impossible for me to take that much money out of my pocket.”
Another man, surnamed Hsu (徐), said that the plot of land he owned was classified as “for farm use” before the renewal, and it would become “for construction use” after the renewal, raising its value 10 times.
“The county government has asked me to pay NT$1.2 million for the land — how can I afford it?” he asked.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wei Ming-ku (魏明谷), who accompanied the landowners, said that as many as 500 households used to live on the 184 hectare site in Yuanlin.
“According to the plan, each landowner would be allocated 55 percent of the land that they previously owned and have to pay the difference in land value to get the remainder,” Wei said. “So many of them suddenly found they have become millions of NT dollars in debt.”
Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Huang Wen-ling (黃文玲) accused the county government of making people suffer — instead of profiting from — an urban renewal project.
Meeting with representatives of the demonstrators, Deputy Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) said the county government has not broken the law in calculating land values or those governing urban renewal projects.
However, Chien said the ministry supports the people, and would help them to negotiate for better terms with the county government.
A smaller sit-in also took place in front of the Changhua County government building yesterday.