No imminent demolition for Dapu homes: premier

Taipei, July 5 (CNA) At least three of four homes in the village of Dapu in Miaoli County will not face demolition to make way for a science park, Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Friday. Residents of Dapu began their protest against a demolition order in July 2010, which led to intervention by then Premier Wu Den-yih.
Wu had then promised Dapu residents he would allow them to "keep their houses and give them back their plot," on Aug. 17, 2010. However, the dispute was reignited recently because Miaoli County Magistrate Liu Cheng-hung wanted to demolish the remaining four homes to make way for a science park. Responding to reports of the Ministry of the Interior's decision to demolish four houses in the village, Jiang said that negotiations between an urban planning committee under the ministry and an association of residents had resulted in different approaches for the four homes. In the case of one home, the owner had requested permission to preserve farmland right next to his house but there had been no decision to demolish his home, Jiang said. Instead, the government agreed to preserve the house and only alter its walls. Another house had two owners who had opposite views on whether or not it should be torn down.
While one owner agreed to demolish the house and has already received compensation for demolition and relocation, the other hadn's.
The final decision will depend on whether the two owners can eventually reach a consensus, Jiang said. The other two houses are situated at the corner of a crossroads and have attracted the most attention due to safety concerns if they were expropriated for the project. However, the committee had ruled out such concerns because traffic along the road would not be heavy enough to imperil the buildings in the initial phase, the premier said, citing experts' opinion. Jiang said the committee has also suggested that the Miaoli county government should set up more traffic signs and strengthen traffic management to ensure road safety. There was no question of an immediate demolition for at least three of the four houses, Jiang said, adding that the Exexutive Yuan is inclined not to tear down the houses for the time being. The premier also said that the Executive Yuan has been consistent in its stance on the matter, responding to some criticism that while the committee's decision was to tear down the houses, recent developments showed an about-face in the Cabinet's policy. The MOI urban planning committee has been in negotiations with local residents for the past two years, Jiang said, adding that the central government will continue to talk with the local government based on its understanding of these residents' situations and persuade the local government to follow the MOI's decision. On Thursday, Wu, who is currently Taiwan's vice president, announced a halt to the forced demolition of the four homes, which had been slated for Friday. Wu had also sought a solution to the Dapu demolition dispute during an inter-government agency meeting. Dapu farmers held a rally Friday around Liu's house in Miaoli. The opposition Democratic Progressive Party has meanwhile released a short film showing support for Dapu residents and calling on Wu to honor his promise. (Kelven Huang, Sophia Yeh and Y.L. Kao)