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Tourists in Nanjing, a city with a history of 2,500 years, will enjoy better scenery by next year when the government plans to meet its newly announced environmental goals.
The capital of Jiangsu province has presented a massive plan to deal with the city's current environmental problems, such as waste classification, dilapidated buildings and illegal construction.
Yang Weize, Nanjing's Party chief, said at a meeting last week that some squalid areas and buildings that were constructed without permission have turned the ancient city into "a beggar with dirt all over his face".
"Some unlicensed buildings have existed for years, even though local residents complain from time to time. Ignoring the problem and doing nothing would bring shame to the government," Yang said.
Yang promised that the government will restore Nanjing to its historical beauty and atmosphere in one year.
Many roads in Nanjing, including some main roads, are crowded and filled with people selling food in illegal structures, Nanjing Mayor Ji Jianye said.
Ji said that improving the environment of 16 main roads and 500 alleys will be one of the plan's top priorities.
According to the plan, 10 million square meters of floor space will be demolished, and more than 1,000 residential buildings will be renovated.
Dilapidated buildings with a total of 1.96 million square meters, housing 7,652 people and 230 enterprises, will be demolished by July, Ji said.
Yang said that before the Youth Olympic Games take place in the city in 2014, Nanjing officials hope to finish the renovation of dilapidated and old buildings along the main roads, famous scenic spots and areas surrounding the games' venue.
Ji said that the demolition of buildings along the city's main construction projects, such as three subway lines, the airport express and two intercity highways, will speed up.
He reiterated that no compromise will be made on demolishing the unlicensed buildings, and local residents are encouraged to report buildings constructed without licenses.
But Ji said that no compensation will be given to owners of houses with limited property rights before the country changes its current policies.
Houses with limited property rights are homes that are built on land collectively owned by rural residents and may not be sold. Though much cheaper than those with full rights, the houses are not protected by law.
Ji added that residential and commercial structures built from industrial workshops will be compensated as if they were industrial constructions if demolished.
Huang Wei, a Nanjing resident who lives in Qinhuai district, approves of the government's plan and said that she has been bothered for years by a cluttered street near her home.
She said that in summer the garbage left by vendors smells so bad that she seldom opens the window.
"But before the government demolishes the market, another well-managed place should be set aside for the vendors to make a living," Huang said. "The government needs to consider the interests of every social group before carrying out mass demolition."
Li Xiongbing, a lawyer with Beijing K&T Law Firm, also said private housing should be well-protected.
"If the houses with limited rights have to be demolished, owners should be given enough time to obtain the full rights," he said.
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(China Daily 08/14/2012 page4)