Quake-hit China focuses on resettlement, reconstruction

June 12th, 2008 - 8:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Chengdu (China), June 12 (Xinhua) A month into its relief work, quake-weary China is now focusing on resettlement and reconstruction. More and more people are going home after dwelling outdoors under temporary shelters since the devastating May 12 quake that hit the southwestern province of Sichuan. Having lived in a heat-trapping tent with bottled water and instant noodles over the past 10 muggy days, Luo Chaogui was now merrily preparing Kong Pao chicken and Sichuan-style tofu (a health food made by coagulating soymilk)for her family in their air-conditioned home.

“It’s good to be back home,” she said.

Luo is one of 240,000 evacuated residents who returned home Wednesday after China claimed a “decisive victory” in the battle to drain a “quake lake” in the province.

“Finally, I can have a sleep in a real bed tonight,” she said.

One month after the 8.0-magnitude earthquake, which claimed nearly 70,000 lives and left another 18,000 missing, thousands of displaced people moved out of temporary shelters and tents.

In the Bayi Tent School in Mianyang City, more than 600 students bid farewell to the tents where they had been studying and living since the earthquake, and moved into makeshift houses with a decent dining hall and bathroom.

Relief workers had built 92,500 temporary houses and another 27,800 were being installed, while the material for 90,800 makeshift houses had arrived in the quake-hit areas, said the State Council Information Office Thursday.

But not everyone is as lucky as Luo and the students.

Among the five million left homeless after the earthquake, many are still huddling under shelters made of canvas and tree branches or in the settlement gymnasium.

“I have no idea about the future at all,” said Cheng Luping, 33, who just moved to a tent from the Jiuzhou Gymnasium, where another 4,000 people from Mianyang were still living.

Cheng was promised a 20-square meter makeshift house by the local government.

“As soon as my wife and mother have a house to live in, I will go to Shanghai to find a job to support my family.”

In the quake areas, many people like Cheng are endeavoring to get their lives back on track.

More than 4,000 out of the 5,500 affected enterprises in Sichuan have resumed production.

Dongfang Steam Turbine Corporation at Hanwang Town, one of the worst-hit regions, is one of them.

The earthquake killed more than 100 workers in Dongfang, destroyed several buildings and brought estimated losses of five billion yuan ($720 million).

“It’s heartbreaking to see what we have achieved after so many years’ endeavors to disappear within seconds,” said Zhang Zhiying, the general manager.

“But God help those who help themselves. With our efforts, in just two years, we will be in a better shape.”

Zhang said he also hoped the government could help them by preferential policies in taxation and finance.

While calling for the self help of the quake zone, China’s central government has launched a nationwide campaign to facilitate post-quake reconstruction.

Donations worth nearly 45 billion yuan in funds and goods, mostly from domestic sources, was raised, according to the State Council Information Office.

The government has also announced a regulation on reconstruction, the first of its kind in the country bringing reconstruction work into a legal orbit.

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