“A rainstorm could easily cause ‘a sea’ of flooding in cities, even the major ones, so it is urgent to accelerate the construction of underground pipelines,” to carry the water away and enhance the provision of utilities, Premier Li Keqiang told a State Council executive meeting on July 28.
The construction of underground utilities is seriously lagging behind, even though the country’s urbanization drive has built up a strong momentum, the Premier said.
The meeting decided to build or refurbish urban underground pipeline networks, to channel more investment, enhance the development of urbanization and create dynamics for economic growth.
The construction of a new-type of urbanization should see equal attention paid to both overground and underground facilities, he said.
No overhead “cobweb of lines”
In May, last year, the Premier visited a sewage disposal plant in Chifeng city, in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, and said that while many cities appear fresh, bright and modern, their infrastructure is still weak.
The pipe network refers to a corridor like underground infrastructure for the installation of power, water, heating, telecommunications, gas and other systems.
“In the past, a great deal of effort was wasted by digging and filling in the roads time and time again, due to the lack of coordination among different systems,” the Premier told the meeting.
“However, this new mode of underground pipeline networks ensures that various underground facilities are brought in, eliminating the need for an overhead ‘cobweb of lines’.”
Significant for urbanization
“ The public-private-partnership mode should be adopted while carrying out the construction of urban underground pipelines. Do you have any experience that proves the rate of return of this mode?” the Premier asked at the meeting.
According to a department official, underground projects are equivalent to an “expressway’’ and this will deliver long-term benefits.
“To be honest, large-scale infrastructure construction in Chinese cities, given their total number, cannot completely rely on government money. Business operations should also be adopted,” the Premier said.
“The government should not only provide necessary financial support, but also encourage private funds to participate in the operation of underground projects. Therefore, reasonable mechanisms, concerning charges and management, should be established accordingly.”
He also stressed the importance of formulating and improving national standards in terms of the construction and operation of urban underground utilities.
“Safety must be definitely guaranteed,” Premier Li said.
The Premier also asked relevant departments to learn from the experience of other countries and gradually promote this innovative mode of urban underground pipeline networks to other cities after pilot projects are carried out.
“It is of historic significance for pushing forward China’s new type of urbanization,” he said.