The Shanghai-Hangzhou magnetic levitation rail project, which has residents along the route worried about magnetic radiation pollution, is still in the "initial discussion phase," a government spokeswoman said Tuesday.
"One of the tasks in this phase is to submit an environmental impact report to the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA)," Jiao Yang, a spokeswoman for the Shanghai municipal government, told a regular press conference.
"Local authorities are carrying out an in-depth feasibility study, hearing opinions from experts and residents, and evaluating the environmental impact of the project," she said.
Approved by the central government in March 2006, the 175-km Shanghai-Hangzhou maglev rail project is estimated to cost 35 billion yuan (US$4.5 billion). Trains will be able to reach a speed of 450 km per hour.
According to the design blueprint, the maglev route will run southwest from the existing maglev station in Shanghai's financial center. It will go to the Shanghai World Expo venue and cross the Huangpu River to Shanghai Southern Railway Station.
From there, a double track is planned with the northern route leading to Hongqiao International Airport and the southern route linking Jiaxing and Hangzhou cities by following the Shanghai-Hangzhou expressway.
The 34.8-km Shanghai leg of the proposed maglev route will traverse the districts of Pudong, Xuhui and Minhang. Minhang District in the southern suburbs of Shanghai will be the junction of the two lines.
But the project impacts the direct interests of people living along the route, and some residents, scholars and organizations have been questioning its environmental impact, SEPA deputy head Zhang Lijun said during an online interview last Wednesday by China's central government website.
He said SEPA has received an environmental assessment report of the project from the contractors and will invite experts to assess the project's environmental impact.
The official said the SEPA will make its decision based on a scientific evaluation, after thoroughly studying the opinions of experts and the public.
(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2007)