Villagers begin relocation for new county seat of quake-levelled county
CHENGDU, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) — Land acquisition has started for the construction of the new seat for Beichuan County, the worst-hit area in last year’s 8.0-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan Province, according to local authorities.
More than 10,000 people, mostly farmers, are the first to be relocated as an industrial park began construction Thursday in their hometown. These people will become residents of the new county seat, said Chen Xingchun, Party chief of Beichuan.
The Beichuan-Shandong Industrial Park, which covers two square kilometers, belongs to the first phase of construction.
The land acquisition and relocation for the new county seat are expected to complete within two months.
The relocated will temporarily live with relatives or friends before the new county seat is finished. Each person will be paid 40 yuan (6 U.S. dollars) per month during the transition, he said.
“The local government also provides training so that they can work in factories in the new seat. We must ensure that people can live a stable and rich life in the future,” Chen said.
“The construction of the new county seat will change our living environment and living styles. It is good for us, so we support it,” said Li Gang, a villager of Huangtu Township, part of which will be included into the county seat.
All of the relocated will be given the choice of a free, 35 square-meter home or 36,000 yuan to build their own houses, Chen said.
The former seat of Beichuan, on the juncture of two fault lines, was leveled in the devastating May 12 quake. The quake left more than 69,000 people dead and 374,000 injured. Another 18,000 are missing and millions were left homeless.
The new seat is located to the east of Anchang Township, about 35 km from where it once stood. Officials and planning experts said the new site has good geologic conditions and sufficient usable land. It is far from fault lines.
The new town is expected to have 50,000 residents in three years and expand to more than 9 sq km by 2020 with 85,000 residents.
The first phase of the three-stage construction will cost 19.32 billion yuan. It includes public welfare facilities, government headquarters and housing.
Beichuan, a mountainous area, is the ancestral home of an ethnic group known as the Qiang, who number 300,000. They have their own language, food and performing arts, all of which face extinction as their homes were in the worst-hit parts of the quake zone.