Scores of residents and environmentalists from Pingtung County yesterday staged two protests in Taipei over a county government plan to build a crematorium along the bank of the Gaoping River (高屏溪) near a historic railroad bridge.
Worrying about the impact that the crematorium may have on the environment and their life quality, almost 100 people staged a rally outside the Executive Yuan in the morning, followed by another demonstration outside the Democratic Progressive Party’s headquarters, because Pingtung County Commissioner Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) is a DPP member.
“The county government has picked a wrong location for the facility,” said Yeh Feng-ta (葉奉達), the president of a local self-help organization.
“The area was severely flooded when Typhoon Morakot hit the country [in 2009]. The crematorium, which would cost billions of NT dollars to build, will be affected when the next flood hits,” he said.
The site is also right next to a 100-year-old railroad bridge that has been classified as a national historic site, Yeh said.
“Is this how a national historic site should be treated,” he said.
Hung Hui-hsiang (洪輝祥), director of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union’s Pingtung office, said he was worried about the air pollution that the crematorium may create in a predominantly agricultural county.
In addition, the land along the river is an important habitat for migratory birds and the construction could severely damage it, Hung said.
“The land that is to be used to for the crematorium is classified as ‘for agricultural use,’ which is to be ‘avoided’ in development, according to the Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例),” Hung said. “Not to mention that there are 1,078 hectares of cemetery land that can be used.”
The county government yesterday said the crematorium project has yet to pass environmental assessment, and it would continue to negotiate with residents over the project.