A deadline has been set for the demolition of dozens of heavily polluting factories in the urban area of Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, according to the city's newly released plan to build an eco-city.
The eco-city plan, approved by the city's legislature last week, says a total of 27 chemical plants and manufacturing bases will be demolished by the end of 2007.
"The demolitions will help improve the environment significantly," said Yan Suyang, director of Nanjing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.
Nanjing ranks as a medium-level polluted city and suffers the worst air quality in Jiangsu, says the province's annual environment report.
According to Yan, in addition to relocating factories to industrial parks in the suburbs, the demolition plan also requires companies to upgrade their equipment to improve both production capacity and pollution control.
Restructuring expenses will mainly be met by the profits generated by selling valuable urban land to buy suburban spaces. Relocation could reap up to 100 million yuan (US$12.5 million) for some companies.
In a drive to promote relocation, the local government has also unveiled various preferential policies, including an annual allowance and tax deductions.
According to Jiang Weiping, director of the Pollution Control Department under the environmental protection bureau, the factories' original sites will receive thorough earth examinations before the land is developed for housing.
Some heavily polluted sites will have earth substituted before new building begins.
There are no specific requirements for development of the vacant sites, but proposals for new uses should be in line with local urban planning, said Jiang.
A total of 221 companies, mainly state-owned, have been listed to be moved out of the urban city over the past 12 years. Last year the city announced that 192 of them had finished relocating.
Yan said the list will grow next year as more private and foreign-funded companies are asked to move if their environmental protection efforts fail to meet the city's requirements.
"It is the general trend in major cities to have heavy polluters restructured and moved out to less developed places," said Yan.
It has been reported that hundreds of polluting factories, including the Beijing Shougang Group's works, will be relocated to the suburbs or other cities.
Listed as one of the 13 companies to move this year, Nanjing Glassware Company in Gulou District has already begun its relocation. But Yang Baotai, the company's manager, is still worried.
"We moved from downtown to this place, which was then suburbs, 13 years ago. It's now become the city's downtown and we have to move again.
"What will happen in 12 years time? Will we have to move for a third time?" asked Yang.
Sharing Yang's opinion, Zhu Xiaodong, an expert with the Department of Urban Planning and Management at Nanjing University, warned that local bureaus' urban planning should be far-sighted, otherwise they will need to reshape their blueprint time and time again as cities continue expanding.
But despite the warnings and complaints, residents around the glassware factory feel greatly relieved after hearing the news of its move.
"Previously we had difficulty sleeping at night because of the noise from the factory. And our windows are always closed because of the smelly air," said Wang Xin, a resident who lives near the company.
(China Daily June 13, 2006)