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MOEA must list disaster-prone areas: premier

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) requested last night that the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) officially announce areas that are susceptible to natural disasters starting at the beginning of next year in various stages.

Jiang's remarks came after the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday delivered a report regarding land overuse issues at Cingjing Farm in Nantou which have recently attracted much controversy.

An ad hoc taskforce led by Executive Yuan Deputy Secretary-General Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) yesterday afternoon delivered for the first time a report to the premier on issues facing the nation's environmental health.

Chien held a press conference, at which he stated that during the meeting the MOI said that the ministry is currently using the Building Act to pursue the matter, and is prioritizing cases based on the locations of hostels at Cingjing Farm.

The MOI recently announced that seven unregistered hostels in the Cingjing area were to shut down, but noted that as the MOEA has not yet identified areas at risk for disasters in the vicinity, it is hard to handle any land overuse cases without the ability to rely on a law specifically addressing the matter.

Duh Tyzz-jiun (杜紫軍), vice minister of the MOEA who also attended the press conference, said that susceptible areas in Cingjing were previously set to be announced in 2015, noting that the ministry will now reveal at-risk areas in Taipei City and Cingjing sometime next year.

During the meeting, Premier Jiang requested that government bodies proactively probe and stop illegal activities that pose harm to the island, noting that the government will at the same time establish a mechanism to prevent any damage caused by humans in future.

Inspired by the popular documentary “Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above,” which depicts how the nation's environment has been damaged by human development, Jiang in November ordered the Cabinet to “take an iron fist” and formed a taskforce to solve the country's environmental problems.

The taskforce is divided into five teams which will work on 16 national conservation issues identified in the documentary, which singled out problems related to sand and gravel mining, wetland and seacoast pollution, environmental quality and development in areas that are susceptible to natural disasters, as well as land issues along the western coast. The taskforce has held four internal meetings since it was formed on Nov. 29.

Chien stressed that “the (taskforce) will not be a temporary thing as the government is determined to solve the country's environmental issues.”

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