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Year after quake, survivors restart in new homes
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15:19, May 11, 2009

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Bathing in the first sun rays of the day, Wang Quan was having his breakfast in his new two-storey home in Chaping Village of Dujiangyan City in southwest China's Sichuan Province on Saturday.

Wang's old home, built with years of savings, was devastated in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Wenchuan County, Sichuan, on May 12 last year. He was among millions rendered homeless in the disaster.

He said he never thought he would be able to move into a new house so soon. "My wife and I had prepared for the worst, to stay in prefabricated houses for three to five years, before we can build our own new home," said the farmer in his thirties, who is father of two.

In his village, more than 100 families, among the total 146, have also moved into new houses. The rest dozens of families are waiting for the completion of collectively built houses.

China has pledged to offer new houses as utmost tasks for quake survivors, with promises of government subsidies, tax reduction for building new homes, and easy access to bank loans.

In Sichuan, the center of last May quake, farmers who lost their homes in the disaster are getting 20,000 yuan (2,941 U.S. dollars) each household to build new houses.

In Wang's case, his family and another one jointly built a two-storey building, with Wang offering his right in land use and Zhang, the cooperator, providing the funds. Such practice are allowed by Dujiangyan City after the quake to promote reconstruction.

The new building, with a total floor space of 408 square meters, is jointly owned by the two families. Wang's 238-sq m apartment has five bedrooms and a bathroom.

Construction started on July 4 last year and was completed at the end of September. Wang said he could wait no longer and moved into the new house the next month.

He used the 20,000 yuan in government subsidies to decorate the new home, and bought a set of reddish brown sofa, a LCD TV and a solar generator.

Almost at the same time when Wang was enjoying his breakfast in his new home, Fei Shuming, a Tibetan farmer, was busy carrying his belongings to his new house in Heba Village in Sanjiang Township of Wenchuan County, more than 30 km away from Wang's village.

Fei's new house was a two-storey Tibetan-style building, and his neighbors were moving into similar buildings in a residential zone, featured by Tibetan architectural styles.

The buildings in the residential zone were built with the assistance of Huizhou City in south China's Guangdong Province, which is arranged by the central government to provide one-to-one support for reconstruction in Sanjiang.

Huizhou City helped farmers of Heba Village purchase construction materials from manufacturers in the city at a price lowered by a third.

Fei, a father of three in his fifties, said it saved him 50,000 to 60,000 yuan for his 200-square-meter home, so he had no difficulty gathering the fund for the new house with his savings, government subsidies and bank loans.

Donations are also giving a helping hand in building new homes for quake survivors.

Zhong Rong, from Penghua Village of Mianzhu City, was found making traditional pictures for the New Year in his 130-square-meter new house. He told Xinhua half of 100,000 yuan used in building the house was from a charity organization in Shenzhen, a boomtown in southern Guangdong Province.

The Sichuan provincial government said construction had begun on 1.24 million new homes for rural households, or 98.8 percent of the total that needed to rebuild their homes in Sichuan, and construction has been completed on 1 million homes by May 4.

In all the quake-affected regions, up to 95.7 percent of the reconstruction for rural houses had started, 76.6 percent of which had been finished, according to the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner.

However, construction on new homes for urban residents is falling behind those for farmers because of multiple reasons, such as diversified demands among residents in the same building.

Reconstruction of only 40.1 percent of the destroyed urban houses had begun, with 8.9 percent finished, said the planner.

Therefore, more than 500,000 families still have to live in the temporary makeshift houses in Sichuan.

The Sichuan provincial government said last week it aimed to finish rebuilding of rural houses by the end of September this year and those in cities by next May.

The central government planned to complete reconstruction in the quake zone before September 2010, a year earlier than previously expected.

It had already invested 360 billion yuan in post-quake reconstruction as of April, one-third of the planned budget.

Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the earthquake, which left 68,712 people dead and another 17,921 missing.

Wang said he was now living right in an unexpected dream nearly a year after the disaster, and smiles crept back onto his face.

Source: Xinhua

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