Quake victims still waiting for rebuilding funds

08:26, January 21, 2011      

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Aid funds appropriated for reconstruction in a county in Northwest China hit hard by a 2008 earthquake were still not available on Thursday, although several local officials have been punished for mishandling quake relief funds.

The government of Wenxian county, Gansu province, was suspected of intercepting more than 80 million yuan ($12 million) granted by the central government for the relief of victims of the 8.0-magnitude Wenchuan earthquake, which mainly devastated Sichuan province but also killed 93 people in Wenxian and left thousands homeless.

A local factory owner approached by China Daily on Thursday said he had almost lost hope of receiving finance after waiting more than two years for the government to honor its promise to fund reconstruction of his property.

"Nobody from the government has contacted us about the funds yet since the media revelations (about the interception of the relief funds)," Liu Kangping, director of the Longjiang Silicon Industry Co, said.

He told China Daily on Monday that the factory lost assets worth more than 20 million yuan in the earthquake, which caused about 87,000 dead or missing across China. He said he was desperate for the funds because his workshops were still in ruins.

"I don't care about the money any more," he said on Thursday.

As of Wednesday, eight local Party or government officials in Wenxian had received penalties ranging from suspension of duty to removal from their posts for mishandling quake relief, an official of the Party committee of Longnan city that administers the county told the Xinhua News Agency on Thursday.

The officials were held responsible for the shoddy homes built for local villagers who were made homeless by the quake.

Among these officials, Huang Shunfu, the county's top publicity official, had been suspended from duty and ordered to confess his wrongdoing to the Party. Huang was the highest-ranking of the eight officials.

In addition, Sang Fanrong and his son, the contractors in charge of building new houses for quake victims, had been put under criminal detention for shoddy work, Xinhua said.

Longnan had launched a one-month inspection of the quality of all reconstruction projects across the city since the media exposed the problem, Xinhua said. The use of reconstruction funds will be audited strictly.

Among the accusations, Wenxian is suspected of misusing 5 million yuan, designated for victims' housing projects, to finance a street light project.

Longnan rejected the accusation, saying the project was financed by proceeds from the transfer of a local gold mine's ownership, reported the China News Service, quoting an unidentified official of the city.

By Yan Jie, China Daily
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