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Soviet Union

The Territorial Production Complexes and Geographic Expansion

One Soviet answer to the problem of the location of industry has been the concept of the territorial production complex, which groups industries to efficiently share materials, energy, machinery, and labor. Although plans call for such complexes (see Glossary) in all parts of the Soviet Union, in the late 1980s the most fully developed examples were chiefly to the east of the Urals or in the Far North; many were in remote areas of Siberia or the Soviet Far East. The complexes vary in size and specialization, but most are based near cheap local fuel or a hydroelectric power source. An example is the South Yakut complex, halfway between Lake Baykal and the Pacific Ocean. This industrial center is based on rich deposits of iron and coking coal, the key resources for metallurgy. Oil and natural gas deposits exist not far to the north, and the area is connected with the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Baikal-Amur Main Line. An entirely new city, Neryungri, was built as an administrative center, and a number of auxiliary plants were designed to make the complex self-sufficient and to support the iron- and coal- mining operations. The temperature varies by 85° C from winter to summer, the terrain is forbidding, and working conditions are hazardous. But considering that the alternative is many separate, isolated industrial sites with the same conditions, the territorial production complex seems a rational approach to reach the region's resources. Integrating several industries in a single complex requires cooperation among many top-level Soviet bureaucracies, but in the early 1980s the lack of such cooperation delayed progress at centers such as the South Yakut complex.

Starting in the 1960s, the government pursued large-scale incentive programs to move workers into the three main Soviet undeveloped regions: Siberia, Central Asia, and the Far East. Such programs justified bonuses for workers by saving the cost of transporting raw materials to the European sector. At the same time, some policy makers from other parts of the country had not supported redesignation of funds from their regions to the eastern projects. In 1986 the Siberian Development Program was launched for coordinated, systematic development of fuel and mineral resources through the year 2000. Despite specific plans, movement of Soviet labor to the undeveloped regions has generally fallen short of plans since the peak migration of World War II. Poor living and working conditions have caused "labor flight" from Siberian construction projects. By 1988 there were strong hints that intensified development would again be emphasized in the more accessible industrial centers west of the Urals and that more selective investment would be made in projects to the east and southeast of that boundary.

Data as of May 1989