The infrastructure ministry unveiled a new policy Friday designed to put greater emphasis on the nation’s appearance.

The “Toward the Construction of a Beautiful Nation” blueprint includes plans to revive natural coastlines, control the height of high-rise buildings, regulate outdoor advertising and unify road and other public signs.

Advocates of the program say the policy signals a departure from past neglect of the environment, when the government was bent on building roads, river embankments and concrete shorelines.

Skeptics, however, call the project another pork-barrel scheme designed to tap the government budget.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry said it plans to submit legislation on various beautification projects next year. The plan, covering 15 areas, puts emphasis on preserving the character of local communities.

The ministry wants participants in public works projects to pay close attention to the environment and is encouraging nonprofit organizations and local residents to get involved in the process.

It has proposed a system of assessing the impact of public works on landscape.

The ministry plans to write a basic law to conserve landscapes under the initiative of local authorities. Local authorities would, for instance, be empowered to remove illegal outdoor advertising.

To promote urban greenery, the ministry plans to integrate the law governing city parks and the law on greenery conservation.

The ministry also plans to remove concrete-block breakwaters that dot the nation’s coastlines and launch the project by fiscal 2007 at nine sandy beaches deemed important for landscape preservation. The plan also includes restoration projects targeting 16 tidelands.

Other projects include installing more power cables underground and promoting greater public and NPO involvement in managing public facilities.

One project will get under way during the current fiscal year: modifying guardrails in 17 areas in national parks and places of historic interest.

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