Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chongqing denies further mass relocation in Three Gorges area to save environment

A Chongqing government spokesman on Thursday denied media reports that another four million people would be relocated because of environmental problems caused by the Three Gorges project.

  Last month, China Business News quoted vice mayor of Chongqing Yu Yuanmu as saying the ecological safety of the area was at risk from the growing population.

  But spokesman Wen Tianping, speaking at a regular press conference held by the Chongqing authorities on Thursday, insisted that the plan to encourage millions to leave their homes was just part of the urbanization drive and was not a forced relocation.

  "The reports that another four million people will be moved out of the Three Gorges Reservoir area are not accurate," Wen said.

  "The municipality aims to attract three to four million people from rural to urban areas by 2020 to narrow the urban-rural wealth gap," he said.

  Another vice mayor of Chongqing Tang Xiwei said last month that the municipality''s development would focus on the areas within a radius of one hour''s drive from the downtown area.

  Chongqing plans to have 22 million residents in the area by 2020, three to four million more than the current 18 million, according to Tang.

  The area accounts for 78 percent of Chongqing''s economy volume and is expected to account for 80 percent by 2020, Tang added.

  On June 7, Chongqing and Chengdu, capital of neighboring Sichuan Province, were selected by the National Development and Reform Commission, the country''s top economic planner, as pilot cities to work towards coordinated and balanced development between urban and rural areas.

  In March 1997, the city, which sits on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, was approved as a centrally-administered municipality, the fourth after Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin. It was expected to spearhead economic development in China''s central and western regions.

  Covering 82,000 square kilometers, the municipality has a population of more than 27.98 million, 55 percent of whom live in rural areas.

  China has relocated 1.22 million people for the Three Gorges project so far and will have relocated nearly 1.4 million by the conclusion of the relocation process by the summer flood season next year, according to an official with the office of the Three Gorges Project Committee of the State Council.

Save Our Environment

World Environment Day,commemorated each year on 5June,is one of the  principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide  awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and  action.

TheWorld Environment Day slogan selected for 2007isMelting Ice-a Hot  Topic?In support of International Polar Year,theWED themeselectedfor  2007focuses on the effects thatclimatechangeishaving on polar ecosystems  and communities,and the ensuing consequences aroundtheworld.

Inresponse to the slogan and in light ofthe core work and keytask  ofenvironmental protection in China,The State Environmental Protection  Administration selected the "Less Emission of Pollutants and the  Environment-Friendly Society"as China's slogan for 2007WEDtoshowcase the  Chinese government and people's determination andaction.

OnJune 5,2006,Bei-jing and Vancouver,host cities of the next Olympic  Summer and Winter Games,and theUnited Nations Environment Program (UNEP) jointlycalled on car owners in the two cities to drive one day less in  2007tomark the World Environment Day.The Construction and Environment  Department of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX  Olympiad (BOCOG)urged BOCOG staff to do their part in creating  conditions for one more "blue sky"in theChinesecapital.