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Outrage over tall tower project

A PLAN to build the world's tallest navigation tower on the Yangtze River in the western city of Chongqing has sparked an online storm over whether it will be anything more than a vanity project.

After the plan was announced last Thursday, a local Website,, was swamped with questions about the purpose and cost of the plan.

One person claimed the cost of the project, which the city government has put at about 10 million yuan (US$1.46 million), would be enough to build 50 schools.

Under the plan, the tower would be taller than the current world record holder, the 68.8-meter Jieyang Tower in south China's Guangdong Province. The city says the tower is necessary for safe navigation.

In answer to public concerns, Bi Fangquan, director of the Chongqing Bureau of Yangtze River Administration of Navigational Affairs, said the tower had to be very tall, because Chongqing was upriver of the Three Gorges Reservoir.

The reservoir had been filled to 175 meters since September, inducing a seasonal rise of water level near Chongqing to 30 meters at maximum, Bi said, adding that the tallest tower currently in the reservoir area was only 15 meters above the water.

"Many cruise boats and cargo boats sail in the area everyday, and the tower signals cannot guide them safely across the area," Bi said.

He said the new tower would not only improve navigation, but also send out radio waves through which maritime and navigation bureaus could contact boats.

The bureau said last week that the tower was planned at the Jiangbeizui area, where the Yangtze and Jialingjiang rivers meet.

"It will not only have great navigational functions but also become a tourist attraction," said Bi.

One objector commented on the Website: "We know two half-built river navigation towers in the city's suburban districts were dismantled in 2008 after the local governments failed to put all the pledged investment in place since 2003."

Ningjingyizhiyuan, a Netizen, hoped that the new tower wouldn't follow the steps of the two half-built towers.

Zhang Yuan, chief planner of the Chongqing planning bureau, said the project was still the subject of a feasibility study and had not yet won approval from the municipal development and reform department.

He said the planning bureau would carry out careful research to make sure the tower was cost-effective and in accordance with the city's overall environment.


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