Kwai Tsing district council, where three out of 12 newly proposed columbarium sites are located, yesterday gave the green light to the building of the facilities in the district. It was the first time in five years that a district council had agreed to the building of columbaria in its district, after 240,000 niches proposed by the government were rejected by locals over the years. The government announced a consultation paper on Tuesday that included 12 new columbarium sites in seven districts and details on the regulation of private operators through a licensing system, aiming to solve an overwhelming shortage of columbaria in the city. Kwai Tsing has the most proposed columbarium sites among all districts. The three sites include one on an old waste incinerator site, one on a site southeast of the incinerator and another at a spot close to a cemetery. Most Kwai Tsing district councillors principally supported the choice of columbarium sites, saying they were far from residential areas. But they were concerned over the environmental impact, transportation issues and design of the sites. District councillor Leung Yuk-fung said she had polled more than 130 residents in Kwai Tsing and found more than 70 per cent supported the building of columbaria in the neighbourhood. 'What they are concerned about most is the fung shui and outlook of the columbaria,' she said. 'If the columbaria built by government can be well-designed and illuminated, comfortable and convenient for transport, residents will not object.' Another district councillor, Lam Siu-fai, criticised the government for not providing detailed assessment reports on technical feasibility, traffic and environmental impact. Undersecretary for Food and Hygiene Professor Gabriel Leung, who attended yesterday's district council meeting, said the bureau would provide the reports as soon as possible. But the council rejected a suggestion that Kwai Tsing residents should enjoy priority in applying for the proposed niches, saying that it would be unfair to other districts. The council also passed a motion unanimously that urged the government to announce a list of private columbaria that had breached planning rules and land lease conditions in Hong Kong, and bar them from business immediately. Ivan Wong Yun-tat, a district councillor, said the government should regulate private operators because they were now 'extorting huge profits'. 'One square foot of niches is even more expensive than those luxurious flats,' he said. Leung Chi-shing, another district councillor, said he worried that another 'minibond incident' would result if some private operators closed down in the future. Gabriel Leung said the government would combat operators that did not comply with regulations and would announce the shortlist in two to three months. But he said legislation took time. Eddie Tse Sai-kit, spokesman for a columbarium concern group, said the government had been taking a more active approach in lobbying the district councils, but should reveal the timeline of construction and number of niches provided in each columbarium as soon as possible.