Villagers in Sichuan fear scrapped copper plant project will be resumed
Villagers living near the site of a controversial copper plant fear the project may be resumed, a year after it was suspended following massive protests.
Residents of Shifang , Sichuan province, said local officials were again lobbying for the project after the city's economic growth forecast fell short of the target.
Authorities scrapped the plant in July last year after thousands of demonstrators, including students supported by their parents and teachers, marched against the construction of the 10.4 billion yuan (HK$13 billion) copper plant, which they said would cause severe pollution.
But now some local villagers fear that local officials are mounting a public relations campaign to resume the project.
"Officials took some village representatives to the site of the plant recently," a local villager said by phone. "But it is not yet known whether the government will restart the project."
A spokesman for the local government said they had not yet made a decision on whether or not to relaunch the plant, but he added that they had been talking to villagers about the city's economic development. "Some residents are demanding that we reopen the project to boost economic development," he said.
The Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post reported yesterday that the local government had told villagers in August that the project would boost the local economy and that pollution could be contained.
The city's gross domestic product last year was 18.8 billion yuan, a growth rate of almost 14 per cent but still short of the original target of 15 per cent.
"The incident has already had an impact on the provincial government bidding for projects launched by the central government," said Tang Qianwei, the deputy party secretary of Shifang's political consultative conference, according to the report.