Wastage under urbanisation attacked
Vivien Pik-Kwan Chan
Senior officials have criticised the massive abuse of resources which they say has taken place during the process of urbanisation.
Vice-Construction Minister Qiu Baoxing, who is in charge of urbanisation work, said local government leaders had taken advantage of development projects to build luxurious and impractical facilities in a bid to claim political credit.
'One county-level city with a population of just 300,000 has built a grand office building with 70,000 square metres of floor space, while another city has constructed a square bigger than Tiananmen Square,' Ta Kung Pao quoted Mr Qiu as saying.
Mr Qiu said another city spent one billion yuan (HK$940 million) on digging up a protected heritage site and replacing it with a square.
'These officials boasted about the achievements of their administrations by showing off big roads, huge lawns, gigantic squares and grand government buildings which did not fit into the scale of their cities,' said Mr Qiu.
'At least 70 per cent of roads in some newly developed cities lack water-drainage facilities and proper sewage water diversion arrangements. As a result, their roads are like muddy grounds in summer and ice-skating rinks in winter. Such poor infrastructure has seriously discouraged investment,' he said.
Mr Qiu pointed out that in some developed cities he had inspected, one-third of construction was below standard and did not meet building regulations.
Mainland authorities have mapped out a 20-year strategic plan to boost the pace of urbanisation in an attempt to move tens of millions of surplus rural labourers from villages to towns and cities.
Another official, Liu Yong of the State Council Development Research Centre, echoed Mr Qiu's criticisms. He noted that city and township planning was usually overhauled whenever local chiefs were reshuffled.
'Local government leaders are transferred every three to five years and city planning is changed accordingly,' said Mr Liu, adding that a lack of long-term planning had resulted in repeated constructions, massive exploitation of farmland and empty industrial buildings.
Mr Liu recommended that active measures be taken to put a stop to fragmented development and wasting of resources.
'Urbanisation is intensifying this year and most cities and provinces got new leaders after the 16th party congress. More coherent regulations should be issued during this critical transition period to guide and supervise urbanisation work,' he said.
He warned that officials should be penalised if found to have approved a construction project without conducting a thorough viability study.