21-km concrete dragon may be slain

Updated: 2007-03-28 16:07

Zhengzhou - The Henan environmental protection administration may halt the controversial construction of a 21-km-long dragon being built as a tourist attraction near a national forest.

Construction on the 29.9-meter-high head and 800-meter-long body of a 21-km-long dragon has been completed in central China's Henan Provincen. The dragon is expected to cost 300 million yuan . [newsphoto]
The project was started without necessary environmental assessments, according to the environmental protection administration in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan. On Tuesday the administration dispatched experts to the site.

"If the project fails our assessment, we will order it be stopped or the completed part to be demolished," an official with the administration said.

The dragon snakes its way along the top of a ridge of Shizhu Mountain, which was designated a national forest park in 2005.

The dragon's body forms a nine-meter-high wall running for kilometers along the backbone of the ridge. The project is expected to cost 300 million yuan to complete.

"The planned dragon is like an expressway which will damage vegetation, affect the landscape and destroy the local ecological system," said Wu Mingzuo, director of Henan Ecology Society.

The Zhengzhou environmental protection administration said they had learned of the project through media reports.

Li Xianmin, deputy head of the department of publicity in Zhengzhou, said in Beijing on Wednesday that the project had received so much publicity because Zulong Company had been trying to promote it via the Internet.

The project did not go through the proper planning and land requisition procedures and was ordered to stop in 2003, only one year after it was initiated, according to Li Xianmin.

At least 50 workers were busy putting the finishing to the dragon's head on Tuesday.

A Henan newspaper quoted an official with Xinzheng City as saying the dragon is a business project and has nothing to do with the government. Zulong Company vice president, Li Xiong, told the media that the dragon project had support from the government.

An on-line survey by a leading Chinese website shows more than 90 percent of respondents disapproved of the dragon which is said to be the longest in the country, if not the world.

Some 5.6 million pieces of white marble and gilded bronze are to form the dragon's scales which are supposed to be "symbolic of the country's 56 ethnic groups". Display rooms offering themes of filial piety and patriotism are to be set up in the dragon's hollow body.

For a fee, people will be able to have their names and messages inscribed on the scales, and companies can advertise the dragon's head.

The project was first launched in 2002 by a returned overseas Chinese but stalled after running short of funds, according to Henan newspapers.

The project was already under fire from some experts who said it was inappropriate, the Shanghai Daily said on Tuesday.

"Shizu mountain is a symbol of Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor, who is considered the earliest ancestor of China," the paper quoted Dai Songcheng, director of the Henan institute of culture, as saying.

"Such an immense structure on the mountaintop is disrespectful to Huangdi."

Zulong Company was founded in October 2005 with a registered capital of one million yuan.

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