Taipei, May 14 (CNA) Experts, scholars and environmentalists, including the sobbing poet-turned-activist Wu Sheng, strongly opposed the Central Taiwan Science Park's fourth expansion project at a public hearing on Monday.
Wu, a Changhua County native who has been a key figure in a campaign to oppose the project, cried so hard in making an appeal against the project that he nearly was not able to finish what he was saying.
Liao Pen-chuan, an associate professor with National Taipei University's Real Estate and Built Environment Department, said the site of the expansion project, in Erlin, Changhua County, was poorly chosen from the start because the area was designated as a key agricultural corridor.
The area is also prone to water shortages and therefore unfit for any kind of development, Liao contended. He urged the government not to compound the mistake of wasting so much taxpayer money on the project by hurting the feelings of many farmers.
The science park expansion project has drawn protests from environmental activists, local residents and farmers who worry that the park could pollute the neighboring environment and channel irrigation water away from agricultural purposes.
AU Optronics Corp., one of Taiwan's leading flat panel makers and originally seen as the largest investor in the park, has canceled its investment plans at the Erlin site.
Cyrus C.Y. Chu, head of the National Science Council, which administers all science parks in Taiwan, said at the legislative hearing that the project will be changed to a low water-consuming industrial area, a proposal he has already reported to Premier Sean Chen.
The science minister also pledged to follow relevant environmental protection regulations when dealing with the issue.
The hearing concluded that there should be an immediate halt to construction prior to the approval of the project's revision, followed by a new environmental impact assessment.
It also decided that a mediation meeting on long-term water resource usage should be held, and called for more public hearings in the central county to gather public opinion.
Council of Agriculture official Hu Chung-yi was also asked at Monday's hearing to promise to put a stop to channeling irrigation water away from agricultural purposes.
(By Ho Meng-kuei and Kendra Lin)