It’s called Lung Kwu Tan, or Dragon Drum Beach. It’s a world away from central Hong Kong. And until the 80s, it was only accessible by boat. Back before the government decided to build a road linking Lung Kwu Tan to the outside world, this little village had one claim to fame – it was where nature lovers gathered to watch Chinese White Dolphins play. Those who remember say the dolphins would leap out of the water, chasing schools of fish to shore.
We filmed here in April for two weeks. The dolphins never showed up, but we did get footage of this:
Two power stations. A cement plant. A steel factory. An aircraft refueling depot. How did this remote village become an industrial hellhole? Everyone we interviewed expressed outrage, dismay, a sense of helplessness.
There are barricades everywhere. Security guards stand watch over some truly ugly buildings, and the air smells of coal dust.
And then, there’s the garbage dump. The West New Terrirtories Landfill, to be precise. It sits where villagers once lived. The government resettled them to make way for… rubbish – 6000 tonnes arrive each day.
Here’s what those numbers translate into (it’s hard to even begin describing the stench):
Ironically, Lung Kwu Tan is also where some Hong Kongers go to escape the madness of city life. There are barbeque pits near the beach and hiking trails ring the hills. Never mind the pollution, Lung Kwu Tan is quiet. Just 2000 people live here. Which also explains why so many dirty industries are concentrated here. Only 2000 people have to put up with the smell and the bad air quality. Only 2000 people, paying the price, for a city’s progress.
Paradise Lost airs on Al Jazeera International TV later this year.