The controversial Meinung Reservoir project is “no longer an issue,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said on Sunday, as she pledged to protect the environment in the predominantly Hakka community.
Tsai made the remarks during a visit to Kaohsiung to attend the Yellow Butterfly Festival in Meinung Township (美濃).
Now in its 20th year, the festival was originally launched amid public opposition to the reservoir project, whose proposed site allegedly lies on the Jhutoushan Fault (竹頭山斷層).
Photo: Chen You-cheng, Taipei Times
The project’s detractors say the proposed reservoir would flood the habitat of the lemon emigrant butterfly (Catopsilia pomona) and a range of animal species native to Meinung.
In a speech, Tsai spoke out against the contentious project.
“After 20 years, I believe that the Meinung Reservoir is no longer an issue,” she said.
She said that without a catchment basin, she would endeavor to overcome the “daunting task” of ensuring a safe water supply in a sustainable manner if she becomes president.
She also praised local environmentalists’ conservation efforts, which she said have resulted in a steady increase in the number of lemon emigrant butterflies in the region.
“It is our shared hope to conserve this area to achieve biodiversity,” Tsai said.
Meinung People’s Association director Arthur Liu (劉孝伸) said the theme of this year’s event was pursuing eco-friendly and sustainable development in the spirit of the Satoyama Initiative.
This can be achieved by refraining from using pesticides and herbicides and practicing sustainable fishing methods to achieve biodiversity.
He said that over recent years, the number of lemon emigrant butterflies has risen significantly in Meinung and the nearby Liouguei District (六龜).
He said that after rain, thousands of butterflies cover the sky of the Yellow Butterfly Jade Valley in Meinung, which attracts visitors from across the nation to witness the spectacle.
The event also features a ritual to worship the Bogong (伯公), Hakka deities that watch over the mountains and wildlife, as well as the spirits of wild animals slaughtered by humans.
The ritual is held to repent for human wrongs and to pray for stability and abundance in residents’ lives, Liu said.
Performing art groups Assignment Theater and Dada Idea also graced the event with their shows, which featured plots based on historical events in Meinung, including protests against the reservoir project.
Liu said the serious air pollution in Kaohsiung related to the amount of water consumed by manufacturing plants, because if they were to consume more water than they currently use, their production capacity would also increase, resulting in even more air pollution.
In response to comments by Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), who said she would seek to “overturn” the business structure of the municipality for environmental conservation, Liu called on Chen to put forth a roadmap for the plan.
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