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Is another city needed?

By M.OYUNGEREL

As we all know, the new city of Maidar, is being built south of Bogd-Khan Mountain, in Sergelen soum, Tuv Province. Maidar, or “Future City”, is going to be an eco-city with minimal primary energy consumption and maximum awareness of sustainable development. The construction of the city is expected to finish in 2024, provided that they get foreign investments in time. The eco-city is going to take up 117 square kilometers, compared to the 4,704.4 square kilometers of UB, and is planned to house 300,000 inhabitants. German architect Stefan Schmitz is working on the urban planning and design along with many other urban designers.
The city will encircle the Great Maitreya statue, a symbol of unity and peace, that will stand as tall as 54 meters with a 108-meter stupa behind it. To put that into perspective, the Statue of Liberty is 46 meters, while Tsonjin Boldog (the statue of Chinggis Khan) is 40 meters.
Ulaanbaatar was first planned for 600,000 residents. Little did the city’s planners know that double the expected population would someday be living here, thanks to migration and birth rates. That growth has happened in only half a century. It’s unpredictable whether we’re making the same mistake with new city planning, with no considerations for population growth.
The reason UB has urban sprawl is because people want access to better healthcare and better education. The schools in the outer regions of the country, namely of the 20 provinces, cannot educate kids enough, or do not offer much inspiration and motivation for competition and development. People can’t get enough healthcare support when needed because of the inefficiency and limitations of state hospitals. The city seems to be a million times better because there are more people, more hospitals and more schools in it. There are some skyscrapers and shopping malls, and mostly, more choices that seem to only be a privilege in other areas.
But today’s city, where half the population of Mongolia resides, has problems of its own, such as pollution and traffic. Obviously, these are not good enough reasons to build another city, but air pollution has been such a big problem that Ulaanbaatar was named the most polluted city in the world. Constant approaches to battling air pollution have been going on since we became conscious of the problem. The projects include building better stoves, which failed because the stoves didn’t produce enough heat to sustain a household; decreasing traffic and car emissions by limiting driving on designated days; and trying to build new housing options for ger district in residents. None of these programs seem to be effective, or they just haven’t been enough to fix the already big problem.
So an obvious and easy way out could be to build another city, to create another center for a healthy environment focused on culture and trade. Maidar is unique among the other 25 cities in the country, as it is going to be founded on culture, traditional industries, and tourism, rather than governance, mining and industrialization. This seems like a nice idea, considering the income we could gather from tourism alone, but who knows how many years it will take before we actually recover the money spent on those giant sculptures.
With Chinggis Bond repayment starting in 2017, and the state unable to enforce its desired monetary policy because of a lack of money in the economy, further spending on something that won’t become profitable until 2024 seems like a very bad decision.
All cities around the world aim for sustainable development. Ulaanbaatar, with a population density of 272 per square kilometer can adopt sustainable development with better planning and leaders who are not afraid to fix things, rather than leaving one city and focusing on the next. There is so much room for it to develop, and yet, we’re talking about leaving it in rubble.
Ulaanbaatar is not overpopulated by global standards, while other nation’s capitals have population densities much greater: 4,065 per square kilometer in Washington, D.C. and 5,354 per square kilometer in London. Ulaanbaatar is 17 times less dense than these two cities. London and D.C, are handling overpopulation, managing culture, economy and governance all at once, without the need for rebuilding. Can we find similar solutions?

 

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=15055

Posted by on Jun 23 2015. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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