Curbing bad projects

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-10-31 07:23

The public coined such terms as "image projects", "achievement projects" and "jerry-built projects" to refer to those structures in which corrupt officials are deeply involved for either political purposes or illegal gains.

Some of the amendments to the Law on Urban and Rural Planning adopted by the session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress at the weekend are apparently meant to curb the sprouting of such projects.

One of them stipulates that urban or rural planning must be published for public opinion 30 days before it goes to the higher authorities for approval, and public hearings must be held for some important construction projects to solicit opinions.

Another specifies that any institution, government department or individual does not have the right to make any change to urban or rural planning once it is approved by the higher authorities.

This specification is intended to stop the promptness of a number of local government leaders to make changes to urban plans approved when their predecessors were in power.

Prudence can never be too much for the planning of a construction or renovation project, according to an old Chinese saying. The same is true with urban and rural planning today as the life of many residents will be affected and so will the overall landscape or even entire image of a place by some gigantic construction projects.

Since most construction projects are closely related to the interests of local residents, they are entitled to the right to know about them before they are planned. In addition, the money spent on these projects is from the taxes paid by residents, who, as taxpayers, of course have the right to know why and how their money will be spent.

In this sense, it has actually extended the democratic right of residents as the law requires that urban or rural planning must be published to allow residents' participation in the planning of their hometowns by expressing their opinions.

These amendments will certainly have an impact on the malpractice by local governments. But they are far from enough to stop corrupt officials from getting involved in construction projects.

A well-designed mechanism must be established to make sure that local governmens adhere to the rule of law when making and carrying out urban or rural construction or renovation projects.

(China Daily 10/31/2007 page10)

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