22 Mar 2013:
Expansion of Chinese City Poses
Environmental and Safety Risks, Critics Say
An ambitious plan to expand the western Chinese city of Lanzhou into a regional industrial hub is raising concerns over what critics call lax government oversight of the environmental and safety impacts, including worries that it will siphon huge amounts of water from an already parched region
China’s Looming Conflict
Between Energy and Water
In its quest to find new sources of energy, China is increasingly looking to its western provinces. But as Christina Larson
writes, these efforts have so far ignored a basic fact — western China simply lacks the water resources needed to support major new energy development.
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and devastate nearby mountains. Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province, is a city of 3.6 million and a gateway to Tibet and the Xinjiang region. It is known as one of the most polluted cities in China, and now the government is working to expand the city’s footprint by at least 70 percent. That expansion involves the flattening of mountaintops, and the additional 1 million people and increased industrial activity will draw water from the already polluted and over-stressed Yellow River, according to the news site Caixin Online
. Opponents of the plan say buildings will also be constructed on loose soil that will be vulnerable to collapse. “It was a rash decision to begin construction on the new city before receiving environmental approvals or seeking opinions from the Lanzhou public,” said Zhao Zhong, a local activist. The proposed plan, which is expected to increase the population of the city by more than 1 million people, involves the addition of industries, high-end housing, and a series of artificial lakes.
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