Mon, Mar 09, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Tzu Chi complex built on fault line, netizen reveals

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Amid controversies over Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation’s proposal to rezone large tracts of land inside a geologically sensitive protection area in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖), a netizen yesterday revealed that the foundation built a medical complex and a meditation hall in a 50-hectare forest area, bisected by a fault line in Taichung.

The medical complex is located on the Chelungpu Fault (車籠埔斷層) in Taichung, which caused the 921 Earthquake in 1999 that killed 2,415 people, a netizen nicknamed “Fant 1408” yesterday wrote on the Professional Technology Temple (PTT) — the nation’s largest online bulletin board system, citing minutes taken during environmental impact assessment (EIA) meetings.

In addition, the minutes show that the development plan could have a negative impact on protected flora and fauna.

Despite these problems, the Ministry of the Interior — just one year after the earthquake — approved Tzu Chi’s request to rezone the forest area into a “charity complex” — saying only that “the structure’s seismic response should be improved in the future.”

Part of Tzu Chi’s charity complex in Taiching’s Tanzih District (潭子), the medical complex covers 27.6 hectares and comprises of a hospital and a skilled care facility.

The EIA report for the project was passed by the administration in 2011, granting Tzu Chi the right to carry out the development plan.

Meanwhile, an article by Academia Sinica research fellow Liu Yi-chang (劉益昌) said the foundation in 2006 denied the Taichung City Government’s request that it avoid damaging the Jyusing archaeological site (聚興) during the construction of the meditation hall, also in the Tanzih charity complex.

“Is the power of charity so great as to flout the law? I beg of Tzu Chi philanthropists to show mercy and stop wreaking havoc on cultural assets, “ Liu wrote.

Treasure Our Land, Taiwan, secretary-general Lin Tzu-lin (林子淩) said that Tzu Chi acquired 36 plots of land totaling nearly 20 hectares in the same fashion that it obtained the disputed land in Neihu, through donation by a person named Liu Ching-an (劉清安), whose name is on Tzu Chi’s member list.

Fourteen farm plots which Tzu Chi owns in the protected area in Neihu — where the foundation plans to establish a logistics center and a factory — were donated by a woman named Hsu Yu-chuan (許瑜娟), allegedly the general manager of Shuang Bang Industrial Corp and an honorary Tzu Chi director.

Lin expressed suspicion that Hsu was the proxy behind land transactions who enabled Tzu Chi to acquire the farm plots.

Citing excerpts from Tzu Chi’s EIA report for the charity complex, which said the foundation is widely known for its care for orphans, elderly people and the disabled and the development plan, therefore, allows no postponement, Lin criticized Tzu Chi for adopting a condescending attitude toward nature.

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