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Russia welcomes eight new urban agglomerations
March 27, 2007 14:57

The Russian Ministry of Regional Development is going to introduce a twenty-year program covering expansion development of Russian constituent territories to the government. In case the program is ratified, eight urban agglomerations with multimillion populations will be created. Analysts suppose these new mega-cities will yield to neither Moscow, nor St. Petersburg in size and population. However, there are opinions of incredulous origin, as implementation of the project requires immense funds to be invested in.

The idea of long-term development of Russian regions has been worked out since the summer of 2005; then the first draft of the project was represented by the Ministry, but the government wanted the document to be reconsidered and improved. Particularly, regional authorities didnt participate in formulating the conception, thus, they were engaged in the process of forming a new version of the document.

The conception of the project implies reduction of subsidized areas and territories attractive for neither habitation, nor business. Towards this end the Ministry plans to form about eight urban agglomerations with multimillion populations and compared to Moscow activity of labor migrants. At the same time much attention is paid to development of transport infrastructure.

The most detailed project is Big Rostov going to unite such cities as Rostov-on-Don, Novocherkassk, Taganrog, Aksai, Bataisk and Azov. The mega-city will probably leave behind the biggest population centers of the region and attract all the Northern Caucasus.

Other projects are: Irkutsk Angarsk Shelekhov in East Siberia and Nakhodka Ussuriisk Vladivostok in the Far East Region. The Big Sochi Region stretching for over 120 km may become a separate resort agglomeration. However, the ministry hasnt presented the exact calculations yet, so the precise sums the implementation of the project will need hasnt been pronounced. The infrastructural development alone may take hundreds millions of rubles. The designers of the document stake on effectiveness of public private partnership and budget investments.

It should be mentioned that the Ministry of Regional Development s offer has already been coordinated with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Russia, therefore, the conception of regional development will soon be introduced to the government consideration.

Nevertheless, experts doubt the Ministry will hit the set targets. For example, the head of the strategic analysis department Igor Nikolayev says that there is no point in creation of agglomerations artificially, as large centres are self-forming: when the worthwhile projects are implemented in a region, it automatically appeals newcomers and develops quickly.

Besides, the period of 20 years needed to implement the conception raises doubts. Some experts believe its too much, since the vast majority of infrastructural facilities are basically timed for ten years maximum and its very difficult to foresee what changes these or that rates may undergo within the period of 20 years. Taking into account the fact that Russian economy depends on oil and gas prices, the future doesnt seem to be safe.


Olga Pletneva


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