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2.79 m Shaanxi residents to be relocated from mountains

2010-12-08 08:34

XI'AN - Two projects that will relocate 2.79 million people from remote mountainous areas in Northwest China's Shaanxi province will start next year and be completed within a decade, the provincial government recently revealed.

The goal is to move 2.4 million residents from southern Shaanxi's mountainous area, where frequent geological disasters jeopardize people's lives, and 392,000 people from northern Shaanxi's mountainous, poverty-stricken Baiyu area.

"We felt very sad when more than 20 people in a remote, mountainous village in southern Shaanxi were instantly buried in a landslide caused by flooding this summer, and we must let our people live in safe and convenient environments," said Zhao Zhengyong, the province's acting governor.

"This is our commitment to our people."

A landslide interred much of Ankang city's Qiyan village on July 18, killing 29 people and flattening many houses.

The relocation projects involve 28 counties in southern Shaanxi's Hanzhong, Ankang and Shangluo cities. Those who live in the villages facing serious geological disasters will be the first to be moved out.

Those who live in villages that are exceptionally small and are located more than 5 km away from a highway will also be relocated to more livable places, the plan said.

"The moving plan will provide us with safe living conditions," said Huang Feng, a farmer living in Qiyan village, who is still traumatized by this summer's deadly landslide.

The relocated people will be settled in towns and newly built villages, the acting governor said.

"A family of three, which will be moved to cities, will be provided a house of at least 70 square meters," Zhao said.

The plan indicated the relocated will enjoy better education and healthcare. Newly built settlements will have well-equipped schools and clinics, and residents will also receive technical training to improve their employability.

The plan calls for all villagers in the poverty-stricken Baiyu area to be relocated. Those who can afford an apartment are encouraged to move to cities, and their agricultural hukou (residency registrations) will later be changed to an urban one, which may expand the benefits and conveniences they enjoy.

Qi Fengmin, a farmer living in Wolanggou village of northern Shaanxi's Wuqi county, said he was happy when he learned his village will be included in the project.

"We live in a place doomed by unclean drinking water and infertile soil," Qi said.

"We hope we can move down from this poor, mountainous place, and that the government will help us develop better agriculture."

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