Hanoi aims to cut downtown population by 33 pct

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Hanoi needs to build attractive suburbs in order to cut the overcrowded population in the city center to only 800,000, said a local official who argued that the right infrastructure plan would induce residents to move out of downtown "naturally."

There are now 1.2 million people in the center of the capital city alone, Ngo Trung Hai, head of the Construction Ministry's Vietnam Institute of Architecture, Urban and Rural Planning, said in an interview published by the Vietnam Economic Times Thursday.

He attributed the high figure to mismanaged urban growth and he said the key would be to provide attractive suburbs.

Hai said under a plan developed by his institute, several schools would be moved to the suburbs. "If this works well, around 300,000 students can be relocated to the suburbs," he said.

"Other residents will be attracted outwards naturally. If houses in the center are too small, they will move to the suburbs. That's real demand."

City authorities plan to relocate around 2,700 households from the Old Quarter in Hoan Kiem District, which is famous for its guild streets, to a new urban area, he said.

Hanoi has failed several times with similar relocation attempts and this time a better plan will be developed, Hai said.

"I think previous attempts failed because of different reasons. But first and foremost residents can't be forced to move."

Hai admitted that infrastructure in the suburbs was "too poor" to attract residents from the center at the moment.

"However the goal of the city is to build what the suburbs lack. Hanoi has required all new residential areas to have sufficient infrastructure, including kindergartens, schools, supermarkets and parks."

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