An ongoing dispute

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The government and the National Assembly are yet to reach an agreement on the Hanoi master zoning plan through 2030

A view of Ba Vi Mountain in Hanoi. Discussions are ongoing at the National Assembly session over a plan to construct the Thang Long thoroughfare connecting a planned national administrative center here with the capital's center.

A thoroughfare connecting Hanoi's center and Ba Vi Mountain, 60 kilometers apart, is a must in the city's master zoning plan, the government said early this week in response to legislators' questions as to whether it was necessary.

Minister of Construction Nguyen Hong Quan said the Thang Long thoroughfare, part of the Hanoi master zoning plan through 2030, will help tackle problems with traffic and infrastructure while highlighting the capital's new architecture.

"It's a very important route both now and in the future," according to the government report submitted to the National Assembly, Vietnam's parliament, on June 14.

The road will be built stage by stage in accordance with the city's development needs, but work should be started in the immediate future so as to stop other projects from being established in its path, affecting site clearance later, Quan noted.

At the National Assembly's meeting on June 3, lawmakers criticized the highway construction plan, saying it would be a waste because it would run directly alongside the Lang Hoa Lac thoroughfare some four kilometers away.

Not to mention that the route would run through many green zones, they said.

Also at the sitting, many National Assembly representatives did not agree with plans to set up the government's "administrative center" around Ba Vi Mountain, while keeping National Assembly and Communist Party offices in Ba Dinh District as the country's "political center."

Legislators said to separate the country's administrative and political centers is "awkward" in terms of affection, tradition and feng shui, and raises national defense and security concerns.

However, in the latest report, the government said it should be understood that it is Hanoi that is "the nation's political and administrative center"; the name is not attached to any specific area within the capital.

Although Ba Dinh District holds historic significance, it now does not have the capacity to house all major agencies of the country's administrative center, according to the report.

Still no good

However, at the plenary session on June 15, many Vietnamese legislators still were not convinced by the government's new arguments.

Vu Hong Anh from Hanoi said there was no need to build the Thang Long thoroughfare, while the capital already has the national ways No. 6, 32 and Lang Hoa Lac.

Worse still, the road will take up over 1,000 hectares of agricultural land, while Vietnam wants to restrict the use of agricultural land for purposes other than agriculture, according to Anh.

In agreement with Anh, representative Nguyen Minh Thuyet said the thoroughfare is a waste and needs re-considering.

When submitting plans to build the high-speed railway, the government said excessive building of roads would increase traffic jams and accidents, but now they argue that the Thang Long route is needed to help tackle traffic problems, Thuyet said.

Representative Pham Thi Loan, meanwhile, said the government should choose one of seven existing roads that run into Hanoi's center to build into the Thang Long thoroughfare, as the development of the new road only gives investors the chance to increase land prices.

Lawmakers also scoffed at the government's reasoning behind plans to relocate the administrative center, saying they are unconvincing and not backed by scientific research.

Ba Dinh District and other central districts are located in the northern region's fast developing economic center, which is convenient for the government's administration, Anh said.

The relocation of government agencies will make administrative procedures harder and more costly to carry out due to the distance between the economic center and the administrative center, according to Anh.

"No country sends the government to a location so far off the beaten track, except during wars," Thuyet said.

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