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Experts urge improved urban planning

Update: March, 21/2012 - 10:16

 

Nguyen Huu Canh Street in HCM City is flooded due to high tides. The city is being urged to improve urban planning. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai
HCM CITY — Urban planning must be improved in HCM City as climate change, unpredictable weather changes and high tidal levels have caused more flooding in the city.

Dr Luu Duc Cuong of the Institute for Urban and Rural Architectural Planning said that weak planning and poor decisions had led to an increase in flooding.

Much of the city, which has a capacity to absorb 50 percent of water falling on it, has been covered with cement, reducing water-absorption capacity by 13 per cent.

Cuong, quoting figures by Dr Ho Long Phi, deputy director of the city's Steering Committee on Flood Prevention, said the total area covered with concrete in the city had risen from 6,000ha in 1989 to 24,500ha in 2006.

Development in lowland areas occupies thousands of hectares of land that could be reservoirs for containing rainwater.

"Urbanisation within the last 14 years has filled up 14 canals covering an area of 16ha and more than 7ha of Binh Tien Lake, one of the key containers of rainwater," Cuong said.

Assoc Prof Nguyen Trong Hoa, director of the city's Institute of Research and Development, said forecasts on the impact of climate change must be included in any master construction plan.

Hoa said that residents often moved to higher land to escape flooding, but the changes in residence were not monitored carefully by the city. This interferes with the city's goal to reduce the population in the city centre.

As part of its flood-prevention plan, urban planners want to reduce population density in the centre, which consists of districts 1, 3, 5, 10, and parts of Binh Thanh. In the future, District 2 will be included in the official city centre limits.

Urban planning for the city centre also includes dredging canals and removing industrial facilities to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

However, experts have pointed out that building has developed at a faster pace than planning, and projects designed to prevent flooding, dredge canals and remove industrial facilities to outer city limits were lagging behind as well.

Tran Chi Dung, director of the city's Department of Construction and Architecture, defended city planning, saying that most construction proposals included measures to adapt to climate change.

Prof Le Hong Ke of the Institute for Environment Research and Sustainable Development said the city should develop specific standards to adapt to climate change.

The height of building foundations should be increased by 10cm or 20cm, he said, adding that the city should also identify lowland areas that could be used as reservoirs.

Ke said that green spaces should also be developed in line with policies on flooding prevention and climate-change adaptation.

Global co-operation

Climate change is causing a lot of difficulties for low-lying regions and adapting to the phenomenon is an urgent task that requires global co-operation, Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said at a seminar in HCM City yesterday.

Aboutaleb has been on an official visit to discuss with his local counterparts the progress made since last year when HCM City and Rotterdam began an intensive co-operation programme to promote sustainable and climate-proof development.

Experts at the seminar on "Water involved challenges in urban development" said that climate change was posing serious challenges to HCM City in maintaining economic growth as well as the safety of its residents' living environment.

They said rising seawater had directly impacted its road network, flooded the city and limited its ability to provide fresh water because of increased salination.

Senior experts from both Holland and Viet Nam also agreed that despite certain similarities with cities like Rotterdam, HCM City needs climate change solutions that meet its specific needs.

Nguyen Van Phuoc, deputy director of the municipal Natural Resource and Environment Department, told the seminar that the city has a detailed plan to cope with rising sea water and climate change problems.

The two cities are working together to apply Rotterdam's experience in "harbour-related activities to the sea" an extension of port systems; and "redevelopment of inner-city harbour areas," the seminar heard. — VNS

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