China's Eco Island A Pipedream?

Flashy plans to build a green city on an island near Shanghai have yet to take any shape. The Chinese government claims the project is still on its way.

"Bold environmental solutions are as appealing to policymakers as they are to engineers who want to put their stamp on the cities of tomorrow. One such project is Dongtan, a planned eco-city on an alluvial island near Shanghai. Designed by Arup, a British design firm, to house 500,000 people on a 8,600-hectare (21,250-acre) site, it was billed as a low-carbon alternative to urban sprawl and a blueprint for other eco-cities. But four years on, not a single green building has gone up on the site."

"The reason lies not in the spluttering global economy but in the political corridors of Shanghai, the powerful city to which Chongming island belongs. A prime mover behind Dongtan was a former Shanghai Communist Party chief, Chen Liangyu, who steered the land into the hands of Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation, or SIIC, a state-owned developer, and lent his prestige to the project. Then, in 2006, Mr Chen was sacked for property-related corruption. He was later convicted and is under house arrest. The way big land deals are done in Shanghai has been changed."

"A noticeable loser is Dongtan. Arup's original plan had 50,000 residents moving in by 2010, when Shanghai hosts the World Expo. That has now been quietly dropped. Arup's Roger Wood says SIIC has opted to put construction on hold, pending further permits. He denies, however, that the project has been cancelled."

Full Story: City of dreams

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