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Protesters accuse activists of hurting Taitung project

Environmentalists, county officials at odds over resort construction plan

Protesters accuse activists of hurting Taitung project

The controversial construction of a resort in the Shanyuan beach area in the southeastern county of Taitung continued to draw attention yesterday as hundreds of county officials and tourism operators staged a protest against environmentalist and university professor Liu Chiung-hsi, demanding that he move out of Taitung.
Several environmental protection advocacy groups and individuals, Liu included, had repeatedly accused the Miramar Group and the Taitung County Government of violating the Environmental Impact Assessments Act by starting construction of a large resort on the only public beach in Taitung despite the fact that there had been no environmental assessment of the project.
Environmentalists claim that the "Mei Li Wan Resort" in Shanyuan, which is being constructed under the build-operate-transfer model between the county government and the Miramar Group, had not be subjected to an environmental assessment before construction began at the end of 2004. The project has seriously damaged the growth of coral reefs and endangered tropical fish in the area, the environmentalists claimed.
But one of the protesters yesterday said that the claims were inaccurate and had hurt the project.
"The environmentalists, led by Liu, have constantly discredited the meaningful public construction project and twisted the facts, spurring many conglomerates to pull their investments from the project," said Hou Shou-sung, chairman of an industrial association based in Taitung County.
Hou was among the demonstrators who staged the protest at National Taitung University, where Liu teaches, and accused Liu of hindering the urban development of Taitung County.
Hou said that Liu is not a native Taitung resident and should leave the scenic area as soon as possible. He urged Liu to respond within 15 days.
In response, Liu said that those who were attempting to destroy Taitung's abundant natural resources and beautiful landscapes should be the ones to leave.
"I did not disparage the project or county officials. I am trying to protect Taitung," the professor said, adding that his household registration is in Taitung.
The real Taitung people should preserve the beautiful mountains and water resources in county, he stressed. Liu is the convener of the Taitung branch of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union.
The police put the number of demonstrators at yesterday's protest at around 300.
The Environmental Protection Administration in April submitted a written appeal to the Taitung County Government to suspend the resort project until after an environmental reported had been completed. According to the environmental groups, the resort construction was originally supposed to take up 0.9 hectares of land, just under the 1-hectare mark which would have required an environmental evaluation. However, after construction began, the project spread over almost 6 hectares of land, blocking the public's access to the beach in that area.
The EPA asked the county government to halt construction of the resort within one month, until an environmental impact evaluation had been made, but the county government did not comply.
A group of environmentalists, including Liu, then pressed charges against Taitung County Magistrate Kuang Li-chen (鄺麗貞) and other related officials for failing to properly supervise the project.


Updated : 2021-05-11 11:58 GMT+08:00