New Rest Area to Grace West Lake's South Shore

West Lake, the most famous symbol of picturesque Hangzhou in East China's Zhejiang Province, is to be decked out with a new pretty outfit this year.

In an effort to further beautify the city, the Hangzhou municipal government is initiating a huge project to rebuild part of this 5.8-square-kilometre natural lake in the heart of the city.

The project, which is estimated to require a total investment of about 2 billion yuan (US$240 million), will focus on the southern part of the lake.

According to the plan, put together by the municipal government, the city garden and relics bureau, the Chinese Academy of Fine Arts and Shanghai Tongji University, about 50.38 hectares of land along the southern shore of the lake will be turned into a green belt 3 kilometres long.

"In the coming seven or eight months, walls between individual sections of the old park will be torn down so that visitors will have access to the entire area free of charge," said Zhang Jianting, director of the municipal garden and relics bureau.

"In fact, it is something we have been longing to do for years, but which we haven't been able to get around to," said Vice-Mayor Xiang Qin.

"Although the southern part of the lake connects with a large natural area rich in stories from the country's long history, it has never been properly developed, which is really a pity," he said.

Now, in order to offer people a brand new lake-side rest area, the whole area will be carefully redesigned, including the ancient buildings, the trees, the around-the-lake walking path, and all relevant infrastructure.

In addition, many historical sites such as the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) city wall and some ancient academies of classical learning will all be restored.

"It is a grand task, and there are many things that must be taken into consideration," said the vice-mayor.

Statistics show the project, which is to eliminate park charges, will result in a loss of 6 million yuan (US$720,000) in ticket income to the city garden and relics bureau annually.

( China Daily February 22, 2002)

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