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Land development policy in Taiwan gets questioned

After the July 2 floods in Taiwan, many geologists, meteorologists, engineers have joined politicians in a debate on what kind of land development policy Taiwan should have, especially after Typhoon Mindulle devastated many mountain villages in central and southern Taiwan.

Residents of Tungshih Village in Taichung County, who suffered most from the floods, accused the government of making a wrong policy decision by adopting so called ecological engineering techniques in repairing slope lands damaged by the September 21 earthquake in 1999.The villagers said floods and landslides have become more frequent since the government began implementing its ecological engineering project, which was introduced by geologists to recover lost land resources by planting more trees near the cracks caused by the earthquake.

Meanwhile, environmental protection activists criticized the government for what they said is a lack of an overall vision in planning major reconstruction projects aimed at recovering Taiwan’s economy .The environmentalists said that many of the ten new major construction projects, such as the Suao-Hualien Freeway, would seriously damage the natural environment on the island and make more areas more susceptible to natural disasters.

Yeh Tien-chiang, chief of the forecasting center at the Central Weather Bureau, said that the damage caused by Typhoon Mindulle was serious because of the heavy rainfall the storm brought to the island over a short period time. He has suggested that the CWB strengthen its monitoring abilities and rain forecasts in order to give early warnings to people living in mountain areas.