Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sad Destruction of the East Coast Continues

How small is an ant?
What is this ant doing with those tiny bugs? Are they aphids? Ant larva?

A Taipei Times commentary reports on yet another developer/local government nexus that is wrecking the environment, this one on the east coast:
Taiwan’s east coast has been subjected to a string of development projects that exploit the land and disregard environmental justice. Now, as the nation gets caught up in a rush to develop tourism, one more construction plan has been added to this sad list. On May 30, a meeting was called in Sansiantai Borough (三仙台) in Taitung County’s Chenggong Township (成功), at which local residents were told that an environmental impact assessment for a building project in the area had been completed and that construction work would start after one week. Stunned by the sudden announcement, local residents demanded that the departments responsible for the project hold a second public meeting to better explain what impact the project would have. However, the departments in charge said that there was no reason to hold another meeting and that they were not duty-bound to do so because the required procedures had already been completed.

Serious problems are evident in several aspects of this case.

The project development site is located in the famous Sansiantai scenic area. Although the area is well-known, most people are probably not aware that the east coast’s last remaining intact coral reef is just nearby. This is the most beautiful diving spot on the east coast and it is an important haven for marine resources that are shared by Aborigines and fishermen. Studies by the Eastern Marine Biology Research Center of the Fisheries Research Institute and by members of Academia Sinica show that this small stretch of sea is home to 2.5 percent of the nation’s fish fry and fingerlings. They recommended that it be designated a marine conservation area. Unfortunately, the coral reef has already been degraded by mud and sand washed down from building sites on adjacent land and by overfishing. There is good reason to worry that the 12 hectare resort development project, in the course of its construction and future operation, will cause more damage to the coral reef and that the reef will be completely ruined.
Such projects are totally common throughout Taiwan. And things are only going to get worse, as the commentary notes:
Articles 10 to 12 of the version of the law favored by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which are to do with how land can be used, would give local governments the sole power to change the classification of usage for land and exempt them from the restrictions imposed by existing laws on land use. The proposed articles would also greatly reduce the time required for reviewing applications to change land-use designations to a maximum of one year. If these articles are approved, local residents, who are generally disadvantaged in their access to information, will be made even more vulnerable to procedural injustice than they already are.
Plans to wreck the east coast with "sustainable development" have been in the works since forever. Recently, with the advent of tourism from China, these plans have accelerated, becoming even bigge and more venal. See this post for more on the loosening of regulations. This week also revealed another nifty trick for getting around regulations -- call your land grab "a university expansion" and get the county government to carry it out.

Another project currently planned is to connect the ends of Route 26 through unspoiled terrain on Taiwan's east coast and thus complete the round the island road network the Ministry of Transport and Communications has dreamed of for years. Wild at Heart has more information.
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1 comment:

Adam said...

Horrible, but not really surprising. The environmental destruction continues.