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November 2, 2012

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Lingang tourism plan attracts key criticism

GOVERNMENT advisers and ecologists challenged a plan to build Lingang area into a new tourism destination with duty-free shopping and theme parks.

Officials in Lingang hope to attract 6 million visitors by the end of 2016 after the new town in a remote part of the Pudong New Area has evolved after nearly 10 years of construction.

Zhu Jiajun, deputy director with Lingang's development and construction management commission, yesterday said: "We hope to attract professionals and tourists alike as the city is building a high-end manufacturing base."

Lingang has a planned area of 315 square kilometers including an industrial zone for the aviation sector and high-end equipment manufacturing along with a logistics hub.

The new town has a permanent residency of about 3,000 although plans call for Lingang to be home to 800,000 people in the future.

But experts said the town "has limited appeal."

"Is tourism really necessary?" said Zhang Hongming, a member of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, after listening to Zhu's introduction yesterday.

Zhu added that a Disney theme park is already being built in Pudong.

Mao Shi'an, a member of the city's top advisory body, said: "Since high-end equipment manufacturing has been rooted here, it's better to specialize in that and develop it further. There's no need to fan out to stuff like tourism."

Ecologists expressed concern about the water quality of Dishuihu Lake, which is man-made.

"The lake was poorly designed," said Shen Jianhua, a researcher with the Shanghai Institute for Biological Science.

"The circle-shaped lake struggles to clean itself and it is too deep for sunlight to penetrate to the bottom, which is vital to support plants and creatures."

The lake has an area of 5.6 square kilometers and the water quality is either at the third or fourth grade out of a five-level standard. Organic pollution is the main reason for the deteriorating water quality. The government spends a large sum of money to clean the lake each year although the Lingang commission declined to disclose the cost.

The lake will face more environmental challenges once it is exposed to huge crowds, experts added.


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