A construction project in an agricultural park near Kaohsiung’s Sinyuan Township (新園) has not damaged the Dabenkeng (大坌坑) cultural deposits, experts said on Wednesday, amid complaints from civic groups that digging in the area has done just that.
Citizen of the Earth and other groups on Tuesday called on the Kaohsiung City Government to stop development in the area to protect the deposits.
The groups said Chen Nan Iron Wire Co and three other companies each rented out 9 hectares of land from Taisugar Co in the park as a way of circumventing laws that require projects larger than 10 hectares to undergo an environmental impact assessment.
While the local government approved the companies’ plans, archeologist Yen Ting-yu (顏廷?) suggested that they avoid the area around the depository and any digging in the area should not exceed a depth of 1.5m.
Chen Nan is digging a water drain that has reached 630m in length and is 3m in depth, which is not only in violation of the Water Resources Agency’s 1.9m depth standard, but a contravention of Yen’s suggestions, Citizens of the Earth said.
The city government has not done enough to rein in the companies, the groups said.
Chen Nan intentionally left the water drain out of its ecological impact assessment sent to the city government, and it also failed to notify government officials and experts about the digging, they said.
The groups called on the city government to order a halt to the digging, reassess the Chen Nan’s drainage plans, and re-evaluate environmental assessment requirements which have failed to prevent damage to the environment and prehistoric cultural sites.
The Kaohsiung Department of Cultural Affairs on Tuesday said that the companies had been asked to abide by the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法).
It said it was still preparing for an assessment committee to judge the results of a trial dig conducted last year, but that Chen Nan’s water drain was not under the purview of the trial dig.
Department officials said they told the company to immediately halt its digging after being alerted to the world near the depository.
Experts on Wednesday examined the construction site and found that it has not interfered with the prehistoric layer, but said they had asked companies to follow procedures and told them construction cannot resume until the city government completes a re-evaluation.
The Dabenkeng cultural deposits date back 5,000 years.
Dabenkeng cultural deposits have been found near the Erjen River (二仁溪) and the culture was an important one in terms of human society in the early Neolithic era in southern Taiwan, Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan director Tsai Hui-hsun (蔡卉荀) said.
Such deposits are important for the research of prehistoric cultures, as they show how humans were able to adapt to their environment and how cultures shifted in prehistoric eras, Tsai said.
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