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Vice-Minister Pledges Scenic Plan Ban
Vice-Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing said on Monday that, to protect the country's cultural and natural resources, companies will not be allowed to get involved in the planning or management of scenic spots in China.

Qiu called on urban and rural planning departments as well as departments in charge of gardening to keep a close watch on scenic spots, which Qiu described as "precious cultural and natural resources."

Last year, the local governments of some scenic spots in China planned to transfer management of the areas to private companies but the ministry rejected such plans.

Qiu was speaking at a two-day national conference on urban and rural planning work, which opened on Monday in Beijing. He reiterated that the responsibility of urban planning departments is to better protect resources and implement development plans for scenic spots.

The vice-minister urged the relevant departments to work more quickly to prepare development plans for the country's key scenic spots.

Places with excellent landscapes as well as rich cultural or historical heritages - such as the Great Wall and Summer Palace - are designated as "key scenic spots" by the local governments.

Both urban and rural planning departments should join forces with the cultural relics department to protect cities' cultural heritage, said Qiu.

Planning departments must get proof on whether or not a project can be constructed without damaging a historical and cultural protection zone before they give consent to the construction plan, he said.

Any construction that is not related to resource protection should be banned in the core protection zones of key scenic spots, he added.

Qiu told the conference that China is to set up a system under which responsibility for any misdeeds in urban and rural planning can be investigated more easily.

He pointed out that the current lack of such a system is one reason for the inefficient supervision of urban and rural construction.

Therefore, urban and rural planning departments at all levels should be given certain administrative responsibilities, he said. He added that urban and rural planning departments at a higher level should supervise how well their subordinate departments investigate and deal with illegal practices.

Department chiefs who allow illegal construction practices will be held responsible.

Qiu also listed various problems that exist in urban and rural planning. He said that decision-makers in many Chinese cities are enlarging the boundaries of their cities with no regard to the cities' actual need and development level.

He said many cities have large squares and huge government buildings while infrastructure such as the water supply and wastewater management is quite inadequate.

In some cities, resources are over exploited and some historical, cultural and tourism resources are destroyed due to the ignorance of local officials, he said.

( China Daily August 13, 2002)

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