Beijing unveils reconstruction plans for quake-hit areas

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 November, 2008, 12:00am

The central government has released a raft of reconstruction blueprints for the earthquake-ravaged areas of Sichuan , Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, as hundreds of thousands of people made homeless by the magnitude-8 quake on May 12 brace themselves for winter.

About 88,000 people were killed or have not been accounted for since the quake struck, crippling infrastructure and levelling homes.

The six documents - produced by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Commerce and other major central government agencies - spell out recovery plans for public facilities, the housing market and the agricultural and environmental systems, Xinhua reported yesterday.

The initiatives include a central government promise to spend 120 billion yuan (HK$136 billion) over three years 'to build the safest and most solid schools and hospitals and other public facilities that will give the public the ultimate peace of mind'.

The quality of school buildings has been under intense scrutiny because the quake killed a disproportionate number of schoolchildren.

Officials blamed the intensity of the quake, but public scepticism remains - most of the school buildings, particularly those in rural areas, were poorly built beginning in the late 1990s due to a lack of funds.

Most of the quake victims are expected to continue to live in tents and makeshift homes over the coming winter and beyond, putting enormous pressure on the government to build permanent homes.

Quoting reform commission officials, Xinhua said overall spending on post-quake reconstruction in the areas in the next three years was expected to exceed 1 trillion yuan, but it did not specify where the money would come from.

The blueprints will benefit nearly 20 million people in 51 counties and districts hardest hit by the quake.