Quake springs Sichuan into action

Editorial, Normal

Two years after a massive earthquake flattened several towns in China’s Sichuan province, more than 28,186 projects have been completed. They represented 74% of the provincial government’s rebuilding plan. An amazing feat certainly. The provincial government is accelerating the reconstruction work and cutting short the three-year plan to two years, writes CHOW HOW BAN


THE Beichuan county was flattened by the 7.8-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan province on May 12 two years ago.
More than 80% of the county’s buildings, including the worst-hit Beichuan high school, collapsed, leaving more than 20,000 people homeless.
The entire county has been moved to Yongchang town about 23km from the former quake site for reconstruction which began last year. The new county will make its debut in October.
The Chinese government has invested 615 billion yuan (K250.2 billion) in the reconstruction of Beichuan and other quake-hit cities, counties and towns such as Wenchuan, Deyang, Guangyuan, Aba prefecture and the city of Chengdu. But, Beichuan is the only place that has been relocated and rebuilt in another area.
The old town of Beichuan will be opened to the public next year in commemoration of the devastating earthquake.
According to Mianyang city’s party secretary Wu Jingping, some quake relics will be preserved in the old town for educational and memorial purposes.
Beichuan is under the jurisdiction of Mianyang.
“More than 10,000 affordable and low-rent houses were being built in the new county site in Yongchang. Upon completion, they will be home to 35,000 people,” Wu said.
The new houses will be built on a 7sqkm area with the first phase covering 5sqkm that included roads, bridges, drainage systems, hospitals, utilities and other infrastructure, Wu said on the sidelines of the Chinese national people’s congress plenary session in Beijing last month.
Sichuan Huashi group is responsible for the reconstruction project which is, by far, the largest ever undertaken by the company with the involvement of some 500 construction workers.
The new county is located on the banks of the Anchang river and surrounded by green lungs and parks.
“Our next step is to ensure each household would own a piece of farming or forest land, so they will be capable of making a living for themselves,” Wu said.
The reconstruction work is one of China’s major projects during the last two years.
Every municipality and province has undertaken reconstruction work in different cities and counties.
In a way, it is a national project with all provincial governments joining forces to rebuild Sichuan.
Of the 28,186 post-quake projects throughout Sichuan, 74% of them have been completed.
The provincial government is accelerating the reconstruction and cutting short the three-year plan to two years. The powerful quake left 69,197 dead, 18,222 missing and about 4.8 million homeless.
Wenchuan, which was the epicentre of the earthquake, has seen tremendous changes.
The Guangzhou city government has just finished building and upgrading 8,326 homes, kindergartens, primary schools, hospital, museum, sports complex and public transport hub in Weizhou town which is under Wenchuan.
The Yingxiu town, also under Wenchuan, has been transformed into a tourist attraction with buildings and homes built to withstand at least an 8-magnitude earthquake.
The first batches of tourists from Guangdong are scheduled to visit Wenchuan this month to see the developments after the quake.
Works on the renowned tourist attractions like the century-old dam and Erwang Temple in Dujiangyan city are expected to be completed by October.
The city of Deyang, an important manufacturing base for industrial equipment, has found a new lease of life after the quake, its mayor Chen Xinyou said.

*Chow How Ban is a Beijing-based correspondent for The Star newspaper in Malaysia