China's top legislature on Tuesday began deliberating the draft law on urban and rural planning that aims to ban "vanity projects" or unnecessarily ostentatious real estate projects.
The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) started its four-day-long 27th session on Tuesday morning.
Wang Guangtao, Minister of Construction, said "with development of the economy, new problems have emerged in the country's urban and rural planning."
"Some local governments have blindly pursued urban development without considering local environmental and economic capacity factors and have built too many 'vanity projects'," said Wang.
He said some local governments also failed to let experts and citizens take a full part in the urban or rural planning process.
"Land resources have been wasted in rural areas as rural planning is quite inadequate and fails to meet the needs of farmers," Wang said.
"In economically prosperous areas, such as the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, coordinated urban and rural land and construction planning is essential to avoid duplication in construction and wasting of resources," he said.
The 73-clause draft law said urban and rural development plans should be drawn up in line with the principles of conserving land resources, environmental protection, cultural heritage protection, disaster prevention and relief, public health and public security. A plan should be effective for around 20 years.
The draft law stipulated that urban and rural development plans should be made public to ensure public opinion can influence the planning process and to prevent local government officials from presumptuously amending the plans. Any organization or individual is entitled to check the plan at any time, the draft said.
The draft law said local government officials or others responsible for urban or rural planning who abuse their offices will face criminal proceedings or be given administrative penalties according to the severity of their wrongdoing.
The draft law said illegal buildings not included in city and countryside development plans must be torn down and individuals or organizations responsible will be fined up to 10 percent of the buildings total value. If they refuse to tear down the unlawful buildings, the buildings will be confiscated.
Wang said coordinated rural development plans are urgently needed to build the new socialist countryside and prevent land resources being frittered away.
The draft law said a rural area development plan should define how land is allocated for residential purposes, roads, water supply and discharge, rubbish collection and livestock raising and take into account farmers' point of view.