Rebuilding of disaster-hit areas resumes

By Hu Yongqi and Wang Huazhong (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-03-09 09:01
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Rebuilding of disaster-hit areas resumes

Workers with the Zhouqu education bureau and from a Shanghai-based charity foundation hand out "happy bags" containing toys to children in Zhouqu county, Gansu province, on Feb 2. [Photo/China Daily]

BEIJING - The reconstruction of tens of thousands of homes will shift back into high gear next month at the scene of two recent disasters - last year's Yushu earthquake and the tragic mudslide in Zhouqu county, according to local officials.

The resumption will be possible because freezing temperatures are set to rise, said officials.

In the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Yushu in Northwest China's Qinghai province, the reconstruction efforts this year will center on completing homes in the rural area and finishing 80 percent of those needed in urban areas, Yushu Governor Wang Yuhu told China Daily.

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He added that the prefecture had already begun building 11,655 homes, which is about 65 percent of the total number called for. The work began last year.

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake jolted Yushu in April, leaving at least 2,200 people dead.

"We are committed to ensuring the proper use of the public funding that was set aside for the construction and to guaranteeing the quality of the homes," Wang said.

Meanwhile, in Zhouqu county, Gansu province, more than 26,000 survivors will move into new apartments by the end of 2011, said Chen Jianhua, Party chief of the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Gannan, which administrates Zhouqu county.

Rain triggered mudslides there in August, devastating the county seat of Zhouqu and killing at least 1,765 people.

Local officials have said Yushu will designate 20 billion yuan ($3.04 billion) this year for the rebuilding of homes that were destroyed or damaged in the earthquake. The 20 billion yuan is 65 percent of the total reconstruction investment that will be needed.

And 5 billion yuan has been allocated for the 164 reconstruction projects planned for Zhouqu during the same period.

All of the projects in the disaster-affected regions are scheduled to be finished by the end of 2012.

"We are not short of funds. Our concern focuses on the quality of the reconstruction projects, which are supposed to be completed within two years. We must guarantee their quality," said Chen.

His remarks were echoed by Wang, who said the reconstruction projects are costing much more than expected.

"Construction materials, transportation costs and labor costs are all expensive," Wang said.

The mudslides in Zhouqu destroyed about half of the community and left 26,470 people living in temporary shelters that were provided by the government, according to local officials.

About 8,000 of those living in temporary homes will be relocated to the provincial capital of Lanzhou. The others will be settled in Fengdie new district, 13 kilometers west of the county seat.

Local officials have been busy organizing construction teams in preparation for the resumption of the building work as temperatures have nudged back above freezing, allowing the work to continue.

Four projects, including a plant to produce drinking water and two drainage networks, have been under construction since November.

In addition to efforts to restore local infrastructure, the prefecture government looking after Zhouqu is helping local people find work outside the county. It has inked an agreement with Wuxi city government in East China's Jiangsu province to hook locals up with work there. So far, more than 20,000 Zhouqu residents have found jobs in the city, according to Chen.

A park that includes a museum, monument and memorial wall is being created to commemorate the lives lost in the catastrophe, Chen said. The names of all 1,765 victims of the mudslide will be carved into the wall so people can have a place to remember their lost family members.

The park will be opened before Tomb-Sweeping Day, which falls on April 5, according to Liu Peng, who is with Gansu Construction Company. The company is in charge of the project.