Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Heung Yee Kuk seeks to legalize dumping on farmland

The mask is off. The Heung Yee Kuk’s latest bid to get a permission to operate landfills on land zoned for agriculture comes as no surprise to those who struggle to protect the green lungs of our city.

The Kuk is asking for a license to turn fishponds and farmland into a dump for excavation material, which will inevitably turn into a collection point for all kind of waste, including toxic waste.

Dumping on farmland is something that private landowners have been doing illegally for decades, causing irreversible damage to the ecosystem and defacing the countryside.

Legalizing such activity would only accelerate the ongoing destruction of green areas.

The Kuk represents the interests of thousands of native villagers, many of whom don’t even reside in Hong Kong, at the expense of the interests of millions of Hong Kong residents who seek an escape from the concrete.

We are losing green areas at an alarming pace. Future generations will ask what kind of people allowed this to happen. Today’s gain for a few will turn into tomorrow’s loss for many.

The government has the duty to develop a comprehensive strategy for the conservation of Hong Kong's natural assets which are fast disappearing due to irrational development. The Baptist University’s study commissioned by the Kuk would only produce the results that the Kuk expects. It cannot be regarded as an independent study because environmental and residents’ associations have no say in it.

So far government departments have been unable to take effective action against illegal dumping.
Lamma residents who have been fighting one such case know all too well that neither the EPD nor the DSD could stop a private landowner dumping construction and other waste on land zoned for agricultural use in the Yung Shue Long valley, despite the fact that his actions blocked a stream and caused flooding.
The dumping has now completely buried a lily pond, destroyed a breeding ground for the protected Romer’s tree frog, partially obstructed a stream and blocked drainage from the neighbouring fields, which are farmed to produce vegetables sold locally. This eyesore is endured by those who live nearby and property prices have been affected.

Prior to this dumping activity, the Drainage Services Department carried out significant drainage works, a multi-million project that was designed to alleviate flooding in the valley and is now just a concrete monument to the squandering of public finances.

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