BEIJING, April 26 -- The draft law on urban and rural planning, which is under discussion at the current session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, is expected to curb rampant urban sprawl and irrational enclosure of land in rural areas.
Extensive and unnecessary construction and land enclosures not only waste resources but also disrupt normal life. What is even worse is the vicious connection between corruption and construction projects: Dirty money from these projects prompts more officials with power to start new projects; new projects attract more corruption.
As a result, many cities and even poverty-stricken counties have been building luxury office buildings and plazas.
Those initiating the projects, usually local government officials, are squandering taxpayers' money while enriching themselves with kickbacks and bribes.
The draft law, if adopted, will provide taxpayers with a legal weapon to exercise their supervisory right in stopping unreasonable urban construction projects and illegal enclosure of land in rural areas.
The draft law requires that public opinion be solicited before urban and rural planning projects are presented to the authorities for approval. Public hearings, feasibility studies or consultations must be undertaken to solicit opinions from the public and experts, according to the draft. Once plans are approved, leaders may not alter them.
According to the draft, individuals and organizations will have the right to check with the appropriate government department on the legality of a construction project if they believe the project infringes on their rights and interests.
The draft law also stipulates that any official involved in irregularity in urban planning or rural land use will face demotion or dismissal.
It is commendable that this draft law intends to narrow the possibilities for abuse of power and widen the scope for involvement by both the public and organizational watchdogs.
Hopefully a detailed mechanism for implementing the law will make it bite.
(Source: China Daily)