Sat, Jan 18, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Jhubei farmers protest expropriation

QUALITY FARMLAND:Demonstrators urged the Council of Agriculture to protect their land from government confiscation and conversion to an industrial park

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Farmers from Hsinchu County’s Jhubei Township protest in front of the Council of Agriculture in Taipei yesterday. They called on the council to help reject the planned Taiwan Knowledge-Based Economy Park that they said would deprive them of their farmlands.

Photo: CNA

Dozens of farmers from Hsinchu County’s Jhubei Township (竹北) yesterday rallied in front of the Council of Agriculture in Taipei, urging the council to reject the planned Taiwan Knowledge-Based Economy Park (臺灣知識經濟旗艦園區), as it would deprive them of their farmland.

Previously named the Puyu (璞玉) Development Project, the renamed economy park project was approved by the Ministry of the Interior in 2009 and would cover an area of about 447 hectares — nearly 400 hectares of which will be acquired through expropriation.

The self-help association consisting of residents that are facing possible loss of their lands said that based on the council’s data, more than 80 percent of the land that would be expropriated is in a special agricultural district, and good quality farmland should be protected.

The farmers held a hand-written banner that read: “Robbing the people of their land. Being oppressed by government officials, the public is forced to revolt against them.”

They questioned the project’s necessity and asked the council to reject the project, saying it would not benefit public interests.

They said that under the plan, 33 hectares of the expropriated land would become a part of National Chiao Tung University, but the Ministry of Education had announced in 2011 that it was postponing development due to financial problems.

In addition, they said that the amended Land Expropriation Act (土地徵收條例) stipulates that state construction projects must gain the Cabinet’s approval to expropriate lands in special agricultural districts, but the review process for the project has been made only at the local government level.

“The farmlands in the area are all of good quality, without pollution. If the council is not the voice of the farmers, shouldn’t it be dissolved?” association chairman Chiu Hung-chun (邱鴻鈞) asked.

“We don’t want our lands to be confiscated. We cannot endure having land that has been passed down from our ancestors sold for no reason,” association vice chairman Chen Yi-hsu (陳義旭) said.

With his farmland now facing potential expropriation for a second time, Tien Shou-shi (田守喜), whose rice crop just won the silver medal for quality last year, said the council should be responsible for protecting good farmlands.

While the council says it wants to improve the nation’s food self-sufficiency rate, it is not willing to stand on the farmers’ side and help them protect their land, Tien added.

In response, Chuang Yu-wen (莊玉雯) of the council’s planning department, said that the council would convey the farmers’ opinions to the review committee in future meetings.

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