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Stop the weird cycle of protest, project suspension

Xinhua by Cao Kai, May 16, 2014 Adjust font size:

A massive protest in the east China city of Hangzhou over the weekend has forced the government to suspend a planned waste incinerator.

However, it was not a victory of public democracy as 10 protestors and 29 policemen were injured and police cars overturned.

Plans for a petrochemical plant were also aborted by the government of Maoming, Guangdong Province, in late March after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to protest over possible health hazards.

If this weird cycle of protest and project suspension continues, it will be a shame for the government and a pity for city dwellers.

An incinerator is the most efficient and economical way to deal with the increasing waste in Hangzhou as landfills become saturated, and it is a normal practice to build incinerators in cities across the world.

If the incinerator project is delayed infinitely, it will not be a blessing for the residents. If protests and project suspension become the norm, the government will lose its credibility in carrying out its duties.

The government should think about why a benefit for the public has been turned into a violent incident.

Lack of public participation in the government's decision-making process is the root of public distrust over industrial projects with environmental concerns.

Publicizing information on projects and introducing public participation into evaluation processes as early as possible are key to success.

Disclosing information through media and inviting the public to discussions and public hearings will likely clear up misunderstandings and reduce the public's mistrust.

The government's sole assurance of safety should also be matched with the public's own judgment.

It might take years for the public to fully accept the projects, but it is worthwhile. Any hasty action will do the opposite.

It is reported that Hangzhou residents voiced their opposition by sending a joint letter with more than 20,000 signatures in late April to the municipal planning administration. But vehicles transporting measuring instruments had been seen at the planned site of the incinerator, which angered the locals.

The government should have patience to persuade the public, relieve their concerns and establish a compensation mechanism to make up for the safety risks they undertake.

Residents will only support the project if they really benefit from it. Unpredictable and costly consequences may lie in wait if this does not happen.

Rumors often spread if correct information is not released in time. If people get to know the possible environmental risks of projects and how the government plans to tackle them, they tend to be more relaxed and positive in approaching such developments.

As responsible citizens, the public needs to express opinions according to the law. Violence is not the solution for any problem.

As a developing country with 1.3 billion people, China needs more industrial projects to maintain its economic growth. Sound communication between the government and the people will win the public's trust and provide benefits for all.


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