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Beichuan quake museum sparks public debate
By Huang Zhiling (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-04-01 07:53

The plan for constructing a national museum featuring the destruction of Beichuan county in Sichuan province in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12 last year has resulted in a public opinion row.

The College of Architecture and Urban Planning of the Shanghai-based Tongji University recently drafted the plan on the basis of fieldwork done by experts from 16 different disciplines at the university.

Exhibits in the museum, spread over 27 sq km, will include ruins of the Beichuan High School where more than 1,000 students died, the Beichuan county seat where more than 80 percent of the buildings were destroyed, and the Tangjiashan Earthquake Lake, the largest of the 34 lakes formed by the quake.

The 2.3 billion yuan ($336 million) investment planned for the project is being opposed on the ground that reconstruction funds are a priority, said professor Zhang Ming of the Department of Political Science at the Renmin University of China.

More than 75 percent of the total post-quake recovery investment will have to come from non-governmental sources, said Sichuan governor Jiang Jufeng earlier this month. Professor Wu Changfu from the College of Architecture and Urban Planning of Tongji University, who led the expert panel planning the museum's construction, says post-quake reconstruction should include something spiritual that preserves memories of the disaster, shows the strength of human love and man's new understanding of nature.

Museum building costs only 135 million yuan while nearly 2.2 billion yuan will go into protection of ruins, road construction, firming of the mountains and harnessing of the mud-rock flow around the ruins, and the Tangjiashan Earthquake Lake.

Two major highways, which crossed the Beichuan county seat before the quake, were damaged. The cost of road construction alone is 279 million yuan, said Wu.