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Citizens challenge new maglev route in Shanghai
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Residents in Shanghai, whose communities may become neighboring blocks along a proposed maglev train route, are asking for more time to evaluate the project, the China Youth Daily reported on January 14.

According to a public notice posted on the official website of the Shanghai Municipal City Planning Administration from December 29 to January 18, the cross-river maglev train route would extend 31.8 kilometers from Longyang Station in the city's eastern Pudong New Area to the Hongqiao Comprehensive Transportation Hub. The hub is now under construction in the western Changning District.

The length of the maglev train route is shorter by 3 kilometers from the original plan considered last year. The new path, running across the site of the World Exposition 2010 that flanks the Huangpu River, is expected to connect the city's two airports – the Hongqiao International Airport and the Pudong International Airport.

"We are worried about the project which is going to be constructed near our homes, because it has created controversy in the past," Li Qing in alias from the Minhang District told the China Youth Daily.

On January 7, more than 10 representatives from four residential communities in the Minhang District expressed anxiety over the negative impact of the project, especially regarding environmental and security issues. A day later, the district government organized a hearing among various representatives, engineers and environmentalists. The noise, vibration and radiation had become major concerns among local residents. They asked the experts to show them the environmental assessment and security testing results.

According to the China Youth Daily, some residents felt dissatisfied with the proposed safe distance designated at 22.5 meters wide beside the new maglev train line. The distance is 2.5 meters narrower than the existing line that went into operation in 2002. In addition, the existing line was constructed using protective forest cover, 150 meters wide, on each side. The residents feel deeply worried about electromagnetic radiation resulting from the new line despite repeated reassurances and explanations from the experts. Some representatives asserted that nobody really knew what harm the new maglev line may cause, so they asked the engineers to carefully scrutinize the issue again.

An anonymous official from the Shanghai Municipal City Planning Administration told the Southern Metropolitan News that they had received a number of questions concerning the project, mostly addressing noise and radiation issues. According to the official, the planning administration will coordinate with the environmental bureau and there is a possibility of making some adjustments. He said they would keep the project's process public and would consider prolonging the current issuance time of the public notice.

China adopted the Temporary Measures Concerning Public Participation in Environmental Impact Assessment in 2006. According to these measures, the public should be informed of any possible environmental impact caused by the project, via media broadcasts and printed brochures. Public hearings concerning these projects should also host experts.

( by Wu Jin, January 16, 2008)

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