Mon, May 26, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Illegal practices permitted at Dome: activists

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A group of activists and volunteers dedicated to protecting trees has accused the Taipei City Government of allowing illegal practices at the construction site of the Taipei Dome.

Saturday marks one month since the Taiwan Green Power Union initiated its ongoing Taiwan Brave Treehugger Action to try to protect 87 street trees surrounding the construction site, which are to be relocated by the dome’s builder, Farglory Group.

Dozens of trees were suddenly removed earlier last month in ways that the union said could have been fatal to the trees, leading to the mobilization of volunteers who camped beside the remaining trees around the clock to guard them from harm.

Several clashes have broken out in the past month between the tree-protecting activists and the construction workers, tasked with removing the trees.

The union released a declaration statement on Saturday, saying that the Farglory Group has already violated the Environmental Impact Assessment Act (環境影響評估法), because according to the group’s contract with the city government, it was not permitted to remove and transport soil after March 16, but trucks continue to transport soil nightly.

“The union has clear evidence to prove the company is violating the act, but the police and the city environmental bureau have not investigated the reports and video evidence filed by the union,” it said.

The union said government officials are in neglect of their duties.

It said the Taipei Dome build-operate-transfer project is a gift bestowed on Farglory Group from Taipei residents for 50 years.

The land could have been made into a community park with a library for the benefit of the public, but instead the city government offered it to the group for just 1 percent of its current value.

Moreover, the union said only about 30 percent of the construction site is planned for use as the indoor-sports dome, while the remaining 70 percent is to be used for the group’s hotel and shopping center.

The union said it is disappointed that the policy was approved by the council.

Street trees should not be sacrificed for Farglory Group’s convenience, it said, and the city government should not shield the group from the consequences of what the activists described as its “irresponsible” actions.

“The union will not be struck down by bad attitude and injustice, or the humid and hot monsoon rain season. We will continue [to guard the trees] until the city government is willing to return justice to its citizens,” the union said.

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