Lawmakers on the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday accused the government’s Taoyuan Aerotropolis Project of benefiting only land developers and questioned if the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) has the ability to acquired land for such a massive project.
According to the draft plan submitted by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the CAA and Taoyuan County Government would jointly expropriate 3,073 hectares of land for the project.
The land would be used to construct the third runway of the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, new aprons for passenger and cargo jets, aircraft maintenance hangars and free-trade zones.
Some residents living on land designated for acquisition questioned the rationale for the project, adding that the CAA has planned to expropriate land more than a decade before construction.
The threat of expropriation allegedly caused an 83-year-old man to commit suicide.
In the meeting yesterday, lawmakers heard from officials how the government planned to relocate residents.
The presiding chairperson, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), allowed members of Taoyuan Aerotropolis Victims Self-Help Association to present their case at the meeting.
As well as questioning the need to have for a third runway, the association demanded “full compensation” for their loss of property.
The group said it refuses to agree to a land swap that would move residents from a townhouse to a small apartment.
It also said the government had failed to inform owners that they will have to pay the price difference if the land they move to is more expensive than what they currently own.
While the ministry has planned to provide affordable housing before it demolishes homes, the residents say the ministry has yet to explain how the 8,000 affected households can obtain the housing.
DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said the ministry had previously expropriated 45 hectares of land for the airport’s free-trade zone, but developed only 27 hectares so far.
Yeh added that many of the proposed industrial zones in Taoyuan have yet to be developed and questioned why the government is expropriating such a large piece of land again.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators Chen Ken-te (陳根德) and Liao Cheng-ching (廖正井), representing Taoyuan County electoral districts, said the project had gained support from more than 90 percent of their residents.
Chen denied allegations that he was pushing the project to inflate property values.
He also said he would step down if any of the residents obtain land previously used for graveyards, adding that he cursed himself to die childless if that happens.
Both DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) and KMT Legislator Lin Kuo-cheng (林國正) questioned whether the ministry has the capacity to carry out the project.
CAA director-general Jean Shen (沈啟) responded that the agency does not have sufficient personnel to handle such a complicated project.
Lin said the government had spent 30 years trying to complete the relocation of the Hongamaogang Village (紅毛港) near the Kaohsiung Port.
He said the ministry should establish a special committee to deal with complaints and grievances from the residents, or the issues would never be resolved.
Separately yesterday, Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Hsu Chun-hsin (許忠信) accused the CAA of inappropriately using a large part of the Civil Aviation Operation Fund for the Aerotropoils project.
CAA responded that it had only leased the airport to the Taoyuan International Airport Corp, adding that 82 percent of the profit generated by the company would be returned to the fund.