Saturday September 15, 2012
Holistic approach to Lanzhou
MADE IN CHINA BY CHOW HOW BAN
The newest industrial zone is earmarked for China’s most polluted city, but officials vow to keep pollution at bay.
WILL the establishment of the Lanzhou New Area in Lanzhou city in China’s north-western Gansu province help reduce pollution in the city?
This is perhaps the biggest question mark in people’s minds when the State Council approved the Lanzhou New Area on Aug 20 as the fifth national-level “new area” in the country.
Unlike the skyscrapers-crowded Pudong New Area in Shanghai and the marine-based Zhoushan New Area in Zhejiang province, Lanzhou New Area will take a different form with emphasis on the development of high-end equipment, petrochemical and biomedical industries.
It is something like the other two — Tianjin Binhai New Area and Chongqing Liangjiang New Area — where energy-consuming facilities and high-density secondary industries are built.
Fears of unbalanced material and ecological development in the Lanzhou New Area cast aspersions on the city going from bad to worse.
Lanzhou is the most polluted city in China, with heavy smog and choking air from its excessive use of coal in thermal power stations, especially in autumn and winter.
Lanzhou New Area working committee party secretary Yang Zhiwu gave his assurance that there would be no place for polluting firms in the new area.
“From the beginning, we considered both the development of the area and conservation of its ecological system as equally important. We will never sacrifice our environment for more projects or speedy development.
“There are a few things that need to be done. First of all, we roped in the State Forestry Administration and China Academy of Urban Planning and Design to come up with an overall ecological development plan.
“Based on this plan and the geographic characteristics of the area, we identified the locations where green lungs will be created,” he told a press briefing in Beijing recently.
Secondly, he said, the government would intensify its effort to develop the ecological environment; and thirdly, the area would fully pro mote the use of natural gas, solar energy and other new energy resources.
Finally, all the projects carried out in the area must meet environmental protection standards.
“By 2015, we shall have man-made greenery covering an area of 300,000mu (20,000ha) and by 2020, the green lung will increase to 500,000mu, which will be more than 45% of the total area,” Yang said.
The Lanzhou New Area is planned on a vast 806sq km of land, administering two towns and seven villages in a triangle comprising Lanzhou city centre, Xining in Qinghai province and Yinchuan in Ningxia Hui autonomous region.
It is designated a demonstration area for China’s industrial transformation and a key platform for opening up to the less-developed western regions.
Its thrust is to promote industrial restructuring and create clusters of various industries such as advanced equipment manufacturing, petrochemicals, biomedicine and modern services.
Gansu governor Liu Weiping said Lanzhou had good foundations in the industrial sector and was vigorously developing its equipment manufacturing capabilities for automobiles, machinery and renewable energy production.
“The city is already processing 10 million tonnes of petroleum products. But we want to move our petrochemical plant out of the city centre to the Lanzhou New Area, and this will greatly improve the environment quality downtown.
“We will then exploit our advantages of energy storage and transit base for oil and natural gas to form an integrated industrial chain of these resources in the new area,” he said.
He wooed domestic and foreign firms to shift their operations and facilities to the Lanzhou New Area as production, labour, utilities and land costs continued to surge in eastern and southern China.
Investors, he said, would be able to enjoy preferential terms such as in land prices, tax and fee reductions and favourable financing support.
If everything went according to plan, Yang said, the city’s population would reach 300,000 in 2015 and half a million by 2020.
“We hope that in five to 10 years the Lanzhou New Area will be developed into a one-of-its-kind modern living area with complete industry clusters, services and supporting facilities.”
Infrastructure development has started. The government has completed a core transportation network covering 80sq km and a 110kV substation, and is connecting a natural gas pipe network in the area.