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Anti-flood forest chopped down for government building

PART of a forest, designated for flood protection, has been felled to make room for a two-story government office building.

It happened in Wuhan City, capital of central China's Hubei Province. The sewage administration office of the Wuchang District Water Affairs Bureau moved in April into a new white building near the Wujin coffer dam, a few kilometers from the Yangtze River, China National Radio reported today.

The office's director, surnamed Li, said she had no idea how the building was constructed. She said her office moved in after the superior government arranged it. Her office's original building had been relocated for a major project, Li told the Changjiang Times earlier.

Wuhan planning officials told the Wuhan-based newspaper that the building was illegally built as it had not been approved by the planning authority.

The felling of the 3,000-square-meter metasequoia forest started in 2007 and stopped at the end of last year, according to an unidentified official of the Wuhan Power Equipment Factory, which is nearby in the forest.

Construction of the white building started early this year and was completed around April, the factory official said.

He said hundreds of trees had been felled.

The forest used to absorb overflow on rainy days, he told the Changjiang Times.

But after the new building was erected, rainwater often flooded the neighboring factory, he said.

Most of the forest was planted in 1970, according to a factory worker surnamed Cai who had worked on the 8-year tree planting program.

Some of the felled trees were nearly 40 years old, he said.


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