Lanyu (蘭嶼) residents opposed to a cement plant near Dongching Village (東清) yesterday vowed to stop construction of the plant.
“Our mayor, Chiang To-li (江多利), is a Tao Aborigine, but he is taking the lead in breaking the Aboriginal Basic Act [原住民族基本法] and the Regulations on Development and Management of the Lands Reserved for the Indigenous Peoples [原住民族保留地開發管理辦法],” Si Epep, vice president of the Dongching Village Self-Help Organization, said in a telephone interview with the Taipei Times. “Construction of the cement batch plant will resume on Thursday, we will mobilize everyone on the island to stop it.”
Residents on the island have fought against the plant since November last year, when a plan to build the plant near Yeyu (椰油) was announced.
The Taitung County Government ordered the project halted because the required administrative procedures had not been completed.
“We thought that was it, but in March, the project was moved to a site near Dongching Village,” Si Epep said.
The county gave a permit for the plant’s construction in April.
“We looked through all the paperwork, there is no mention of laws related to Aborigines and development of Aboriginal reserve lands, but Lanyu is a designated Aboriginal township with more than 90 percent of the residents Tao Aborigines,” Si Epep said. “The county government and the township office are apparently trying to avoid requirements in Aboriginal laws.”
According to the Aboriginal Basic Act, local residents must be consulted about any development project in Aboriginal traditional domains and they must give their consent in advance.
The Regulations on Development and Management of the Lands Reserved for the Indigenous Peoples stipulates that such projects have to be approved by a local Land Development Review Committee.
“We never had such a meeting. Even if we did, I would not agree to it,” said Chiang Jung-hua (江榮華), a member of the Lanyu Township Land Development Review Committee.
The township office said in a press release that the construction of the plant had been approved by the county government and the office, so the plant was completely legal and construction would continue despite the opposition.
“The cement batch plant will be a temporary one, which would be in operation during recovery work to deal with the aftermath of Typhoon Libra, which severely damaged Lanyu last year,” the statement said. “The plant would be completely removed after the recovery works are completed.”
However, Si Epep said since there are three cement plants on the island already, “there is no need for a new one.”