Measures to control Beijing's ever-increasing population are being looked at by experts.
The issue has been among the main topics of discussion for the capital's legislators and advisers who are having their annual meetings this week.
Some have argued that the city's newly-drafted five-year plan to contain its permanent population to within 16 million by 2010 is a "mission impossible."
"It is really not an easy job, considering that the current permanent population of the capital surpassed 15.3 million in 2005," said Lu Jiehua, a member of Beijing Municipal People's Political Consultative Conference.
Attributing the booming population to the entry of hundreds of thousands of "floating people," Lu suggested that the capital must restrain the proportion of the temporary migrants to less than 20 per cent in the upcoming five years.
Statistics indicated that the floating population in Beijing reached 4.58 million by the end of 2004.
The permanent population of the capital in 2005 increased by 1.6 million from 2000, Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan told the ongoing meeting of the city's people's congress.
Experts said the rapid growth of Beijing's population has worsened the situation in fields such as environment, traffic, public security, health, education and inhabitation.
The Jiusan Society, a non-Communist party, claimed during the annual session of the consultative conference that the limited water resources have become a problem for the city's growth and planning.
The annual water resource level per capita in the city is 300 cubic metres, one-eighth of the national average level and one-30th of the world average level, it said.
The figure is estimated to drop to 233 by 2010, it added.
Lu suggested that more work needed to be done on the administration of migrant people, such as collecting data on them as well as to safeguard their legal rights in living, job-seeking, education and sanitation.
He called for specific laws relating to the administration of migrant people in Beijing to be drawn up as soon as possible.
"Ten million or 20 million people is not the problem as such, the point is how to cope with the situation," said Sun Jin, a professor from the Beijing Normal University as well as a delegate of the city's people's congress.
He added rational reasons should be given on the number of residents that Beijing could afford to have.
Sun suggested that a deliberate balance should be sought between the city's expansion and the demand of people to ensure they all have a decent standard of living.
As Beijing's development was focused so centrally in the past, its population used to crowd in the downtown area, said Jiusan Society's proposal.
As a result, the satellite towns cannot fully play their roles of industrial and economic centres. A huge amount of residents have to commute from their homes in the suburbs to places of work in the downtown area, increasing their living costs, it said.
Members of the society suggested that one of the fundamental ways of solving the population problem would be to divert some of the city's functions to the nearby metropolis of Tianjin and cities in neighbouring Hebei Province through the so-called Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Metropolitan Cluster Strategy.
It also suggested Beijing adopt the multi-centre path of development in its future planning.
Source: China Daily