Thu, Apr 13, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Waterway beautification decried as waste of money

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang, right, is joined by other KMT legislators yesterday at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan to criticize the government’s new Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

The Executive Yuan’s proposed “Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program” would waste funds on pork-barrel waterway beautification, while ignoring the management of rivers and reservoirs upstream, environmentalists said yesterday at a protest outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

About 20 Taiwan Water Resources Conservation Union protesters gathered outside a Legislative Yuan side door, accusing the government of directing money to popular local government patronage projects aimed at winning votes.

Premier Lin Chuan’s (林全) initiative would allocate NT$880 billion (US$28.8 billion) to infrastructure development projects over eight years.

Union director Jennifer Nien (粘麗玉) took aim at NT$28 billion she said had been allocated to waterway beautification, calling for more to be spent on enforcing land use regulations upstream.

“There is no point beautifying downstream areas in cities if you do not manage upstream and midstream areas effectively,” Nien said.

“In many cases beautification consisted of deceptive cosmetic changes to underground wastewater channels,” she said.

“Wastewater flows are put underground, while clean water is sent into new concrete channels on the surface,” she said.

She also criticized plans to construct new reservoirs.

“Upstream areas have the problem of agriculture creeping into the mountains, causing sediment to build up in reservoirs,” Changhua Medical Alliance president Tsai Chih-hung (蔡志宏) said. “However, the Executive Yuan is not planning to address this problem, instead focusing on blindly building new reservoirs.”

Tsai called for money to be spent on plans to replenish aquifers instead, as overuse has led to widespread sinking of overlying land.

“Despite the huge budget, we do not see how infrastructure plans are going to improve the environment we leave to our children — all the government talks about is potential returns on investment,” Water Watch Taiwan member Liang Yin-min (梁蔭民) said, calling for funds to be invested in diversifying water sources.

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