[EDITORIALS]Asan plan lacks credibility

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[EDITORIALS]Asan plan lacks credibility

With the approach of the election season, government ministries may be experiencing the recurrence of an incurable disease. The development plan for an area in Asan, in South Chungcheong province, announced by the Ministry of Construction and Transportation on Wednesday, is hardly the ambitious undertaking the ministry pronounced it to be. The plan appears to be a regurgitation of a stale idea, intended for nothing other than gaining votes.

A development plan centered around high-speed railway stations should be considered when the Seoul-Busan line is completed. An area of Cheonan, which borders Asan to the west, will hold a major leg of the railway close to the capital region. The development of the region must be undertaken, keeping in mind its potential as a new phase in balanced planning.

Asan was first mentioned for development in 1994 - and several times since then - as the site for a new city, but actual work on the project never took off. The situation mirrors the lack of profit potential, making the resources needed for the development hard to come by. The Construction Ministry's latest plan ignores this fact. The plan says 3.3 square kilometers of land will be ready for residential development in the first half of 2002, but the plan lacks substance.

The Construction Ministry has said it would take the initiative and relocate to the region. But the new "administration town" in Daejeon is not firmly established. If the ministry wants to move its offices, it could pick Daejeon and help establish momentum there. Moving universities out of Seoul is another strategy to reduce the population in the capital, but Seoul National University shelved its plan for a campus for freshmen and sophomores in Asan a year ago.

The discount fare schedule for commuters on the express railway reportedly is modeled after the Japanese express railway, Shinkansen, but with the National Railroad Administration wrestling with massive debt, the discount fares are questionable.

National land planning must be based on a long-term vision and thoroughly thought out. We cannot afford to rerun a shoddy, old program just in time for the elections.
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