Sat, Mar 05, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Military bases bane of Pingtung residents to stay put

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Soldiers take aim during military exercises in Pingtung yesterday.

Photo: Luo Tien-pin, Taipei Times

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday rejected a request by the Pingtung County Government and local residents to relocate two military bases, saying there are no other suitable sites.

Pingtung County Government spokesman Huang Chien-chia (黃建嘉) said the two military bases have adversely affected the livelihood of local residents and have had a detrimental impact on the environment, and as the local government has construction and land renewal plans for the two bases, its has asked the ministry to facilitate their relocation.

One of the sites in question is the Army Airborne Training Center for paratrooper units under the administration of the Army Special Forces Command. Located in Pingtung City, it is also known as Dawu Military Base.

The other site is the Joint Operations Training Base Command, which covers more than 2,000 hectares encompassing Pingtung’s four southernmost townships — Hengchun (恆春), Checheng (車城), Mudan (牡丹) and Manzhou (滿州) — and has been used as a firing range and for military field combat training by all branches of the nation’s armed forces.

Both the military and the Pingtung County Government own tracts of land inside the Dawu Military Base, and negotiations had been held between the ministry and Pingtung County Commissioner Pan Men-an (潘孟安), with the latest round ending last week, at which the ministry promised to initiate the relocation this year, with the facilities to be moved to the Pingtung Air Force Base.

“However, ministry officials changed their minds, saying they will relocate the base in 2021 upon completing construction and installation of facilities for a new military base at the Pingtung Air Force Base,” Huang said. “This delay is hard to accept for local residents.”

He said the presence of the airborne training center has impeded Pingtung City’s planning for improved transportation networks and urban renewal programs.

MND spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said there are no other sites in Pingtung that can be used for paratrooper training, weapons and materiel storage and barracks, therefore they could not shorten the construction timetable for 2021.

Regarding relocation of the base command, Lo said it is the only site for live-fire drills and combined field exercises involving all major branches of the armed forces.

“It is of great importance for the military to make use of the site. We have no replacement for it,” he said.

Local residents have held protests against the base command holding military exercises, because stray artillery shells have damaged people’s houses, while the noise and concussions from explosions have disrupted their daily lives.

Noise and chemical pollution have also been the cause of conflicts with local residents, while Pingtung County Government last year levied a fine of NT$300,000 against the base, citing a number of breaches of the Soil and Water Conservation Act (水土保持法).

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