The Agency of Irrigation was yesterday officially established, with its main aim being to increase the number of fields that are irrigated, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said.
The Legislative Yuan on July 2 passed the third reading of a bill to convert the nation’s 17 irrigation associations into a central government body.
The new agency was established despite strong opposition from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers and some farmers, who said that the Democratic Progressive Party government was resorting to a “tyranny of the majority” in an attempt to forcibly “seize associations’ assets under the guise of upgrading them to government bodies.”
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Noting that Taiwan is expected to experience drought periodically through the first half of next year due to weather system La Nina, Chen said that the agency would be able to more effectively control and distribute water resources.
The agency would promote the use of intelligent irrigation systems and modern equipment, he said, pledging that it would prove to farmers to be better than its predecessor.
Agency Director Tsai Sheng-fu (蔡昇甫) said that its priority would be to step up agricultural irrigation construction projects, adding that the agency would later also focus on investigating and handling incidents of water pollution.
Most importantly, the agency must supervise the provision of water to an additional 370,000 hectares of farmland outside of the irrigation zone and not just the 310,000 hectares in the zone, he said.
Tsai said that the agency would operate transparently with regard to how it uses its assets, which under its predecessor organizations were estimated to be NT$100 billion (US$3.43 billion) or more.
“All funds or assets will be used for the service of farmers,” he said.
Tsai said that farmers’ rights would not be affected now that the agency, as a governmental unit, has taken over irigation affairs, adding that it would not expropriate property belonging to farmers.
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