Following is a question by the Hon Tanya Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (December 1):
According to the Lands Department's reply to me, the Government has set up an inter-departmental working group to handle claims for compensation for disturbance to fung shui (fung shui claims) arising from the construction of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL works). The ambit of the working group, which mainly comprises representatives from the Highways Department, the Home Affairs Department and the Lands Department, includes vetting and approving the grant of ex-gratia allowances for "Tun Fu" payments in relation to fung shui claims as well as examining works conducted to compensate for the disturbance to the fung shui of villages (compensatory works). Regarding issues relating to compensatory works, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether the Government has drawn up procedures and guidelines for handling allegations made by rural residents about the impact on fung shui of public works projects; if it has, of the details of such procedures and guidelines; if not, whether it will consider drawing up such guidelines; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(b) whether the Government had in the past five years assessed if compensatory works can effectively mitigate the disturbance to the fung shui of villages; if it had, of the criteria adopted by the Government; if not, how the effectiveness of the compensatory works is ascertained;
(c) of the total number of applications for compensatory works received by the Government in relation to the XRL works; among such applications, of the number of those approved, as well as the details of each approved application, including the date of application, expected commencement date, location, reasons for undertaking the works, as well as the nature, particulars and costs of the works;
(d) of the total number of applications for compensatory works received by the Government in the past decade when undertaking public works projects other than the XRL works; among such applications, of the number of those approved, as well as the details of each approved application, including the date of application, expected commencement date, location, reasons for undertaking the works, as well as the nature, particulars and costs of the works; and
(e) given that the Lands Department has indicated that the aforesaid inter-departmental working group is examining the request made by the residents of Kap Lung Village in Pat Heung of Yuen Long for the Government to widen a bridge in compensation for the disruption caused by the XRL works to the village's fung shui, of the total number of residents of that village who have requested the Government to widen the bridge concerned, and the factors it will consider when vetting and approving the works in question?
In implementing public works projects, works departments will strive to minimise the impact on surrounding environment. However, there may be cases where the works will cause unavoidable adverse impact or inconvenience to the neighbourhood. In such cases, to ensure smooth implementation of the projects as well as to address the concerns of the residents and to maintain a harmonious relationship with them, the works departments will provide certain community facilities or improve the existing ones, such as Pai Lau, rain shelter or landscaping works, to alleviate the adverse impact of the public works projects. While some residents may consider these compensatory works are related to "fung shui", "fung shui" is actually not a consideration for the departments concerned.
My reply to the five parts of the question is as follows:
(a) Since "fung shui" is not a consideration in implementing public works projects, the Government has not drawn up any procedures or guidelines for handling allegations made by the residents about the impact on "fung shui". However, as mentioned above, the implementation of public works projects may sometimes cause adverse impact or inconvenience to neighbouring communities. In planning public works projects, we seek to protect the local environment, greening as well as culture and history of the communities. We will try our best to reprovision the community facilities affected by the works as far as possible in order to minimise the impact of the projects on the communities. We also follow the above principles in implementing public works projects in rural areas. Throughout the process, related departments such as the departments responsible for the works projects and the Home Affairs Department, will discuss the details with the relevant District Councils and the local community.
(b) As mentioned above, "fung shui" has not been a consideration in implementing public works projects. Therefore, we do not have such assessment.
(c) According to the information from the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB), the Lands Department has received a total of 17 claims related to XRL works which the villagers considered as "fung shui" related, including Tun Fu allowance, rebuilding of Village Office cum Worship Hall, construction of Pai Lau / pagoda / Village Office cum Worship Hall, refurbishment of Village Office and repair of temple/ Pai Lau / Worship Place / ancestors' grave. In processing the requests related to the works, the Government will give due consideration to community interests and their technical feasibilities. "Fung shui" compensation is not a consideration. To follow up these applications, the Government has set up an inter-departmental working group with members mainly from the Lands Department, Home Affairs Department and Highways Department responsible for the XRL works. According to the preliminary information available, the working group will consider the applications having regard to the concerns of the residents and the need to alleviate the adverse impact of the works. After the in principle agreement is provided by the working group to the applications, they will be forwarded to the Highways Department for further consideration on whether approval will be granted.
(d) Since "fung shui" is not a consideration for implementing public works, the Government does not have detailed information for such compensatory works for the past decade. Based on the records provided by works departments for the past three years, a Pai Lau costing about $800,000 was completed at Tai Hang Village to address the concerns of the residents. The Government is currently constructing Pai Laus of about $800,000 each at Lam Hau Tsuen, Yeung Uk Tsuen and Ping Kong Village to alleviate the adverse impact of the works projects.
(e) According to the information from the THB, the claim which the residents considered to be related to "fung shui" was filed by an indigenous inhabitant representative of Kap Lung Tsuen, Pat Heung who asked for the widening of an existing footbridge.
After initial consideration, the inter-departmental working group set up for the XRL project has agreed in principle to follow up on the compensation claim, taking into account the concerns of the residents and to alleviate the adverse impact of the works. The Highways Department is consulting with other relevant departments (such as the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, Water Supplies Department and Environmental Protection Department) to determine the feasibility of the proposed works. The next step will be posting notices to seek the views of nearby villagers, so as to assess whether the proposed works will bring any benefit or improvement to Kap Lung Tsuen or its neighbouring community.
As for the works progress, the proposed works are still under consultation and study and have not yet been approved.
Ends/Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Issued at HKT 15:58