By Lee Hyo-sik
The previous Roh Moo-hyun administration designated Busan and nine other large cities in provincial areas as ``innovative'' cities to promote the regional economies in the name of balanced national development.
But the Lee Myung-bak government Sunday took a step further by pledging to turn the 10 municipalities into environment-friendly and low-carbon urban metropolises.
They are expected to house not only plants and other business-related facilities, but also universities and research institutes, becoming an academic-industrial cluster.
After compiling development proposals from municipal administrations, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs unveiled these and other measures to establish the innovative cities in an environment-friendly and energy-efficient manner.
The government introduced a range of policies worth billions of dollars over the past year to transform the nation into a low-carbon and alternative energy-based economy.
The ministry vowed to actively lend financial and administrative support to municipal governments for the early completion of the city projects. Larger state-owned land for the construction of research centers and other urban facilities will be provided at cheaper prices.
Under the scheme, a total of 161 kilometers of bicycle roads will be constructed across the 10 cities to reduce auto exhaust, with roads and other urban infrastructures being built in a way to help the elderly and physically handicapped live more conveniently.
An innovative city to be built in North Chungcheong Province will adopt an environment-friendly energy system that recycles residential and industrial waste, as well as reuses rainwater.
Buildings will be equipped with air-conditioning and heating mechanisms powered by sunlight and other renewable energy resources.
Daegu will be developed into a model alternative energy-based metropolis, while the city being constructed in North Jeolla Province will have environment-friendly roads and other transport infrastructures. Both cities will house a number of privately run high schools and universities to improve the educational environment.
Busan innovative city will be the home of a maritime, financial and multi-media cluster, with Ulsan being transformed into a center for energy and environment-related research.
South Gyeongsang Province will create an industrial, logistics and tourism belt along its southern coast line, while Jeju will be developed into a tourism and convention hub.