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China's 'Mountain-Moving Project' Near Lanzhou Aims To Flatten Territory For Development (VIDEO)

12/07/2012 07:34 pm 19:34:52

In an unprecedented move that's being called the largest "mountain-moving project" in Chinese history, China plans to flatten 700 mountains near Lanzhou for development.

One of China's biggest construction companies, Pacific Construction Group, is carrying out the $3.52 billion project that will decimate 500 square miles of mountainous territory to make room for a new urban district northeast of the capital of the Gansu Province.

"The establishment of the Lanzhou New Area marks the country's latest effort to accelerate development of the western regions," Qin Yucai, a regional director for the National Development and Reform Commission, said during a recent news conference in Beijing, according to Sky News.

According to China Daily, the massive venture was approved in August and has already amassed 70.7 billion yuan -- more than $11 billion -- in corporate investments. Pacific Construction Group Chairman Yan Jiehe, who is often referred to as the 'Donald Trump of China,' is the driving force behind the initiative.

While the construction of the infrastructure of what will become China's fifth state-level development zone is not expected to be complete until 2030, Gansu Governor Liu Weiping estimates the area's gross domestic product will reach 50 billion yuan -- about $8 billion -- by 2015.

Construction of high-rise residential buildings in the new zone is also expected to increase the area's population by several hundred thousand, adding to Lanzhou's current population of 3.6 million.

Despite the influx of capital the "mountain-moving project" is expected to bring, the plan has sparked criticism for its potentially hazardous effects on the environment in the region. Lanzhou, which Time once named the most polluted city in the world, has a history of battling against heavy pollution and water shortages.

However, a spokeswoman for the construction group dismissed these concerns. "Lanzhou's environment is already really poor, it's all desolate mountains which are extremely short of water," Angie Wong told The Guardian. "Our protective style of development will divert water to the area, achieve reforestation and make things better than before."

Flattening mountains is not a new practice -- mining companies have razed mountainous terrain in the past to excavate coal -- but China's plan to demolish 700 mountains may be the largest project to date.

Check out the video above to see a mock-up of the Lanzhou New Area.

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