Relocation sparked by urge to avoid disaster

08:21, February 22, 2011      

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A total of 2.79 million people in Shaanxi province will be relocated from mountainous areas that are prone to poverty and vulnerable to geological disasters during the next 10 years, according to a plan by the provincial government.

The relocation and resettlement project will affect 2.4 million people living in southern Shaanxi and the poverty reduction project will impact 392,000 people living in the Baiyu mountainous area in northern parts of the province. Both programs will start this year, Shaanxi Governor Zhao Zhengyong told China Daily.

The number of people set to be relocated is far larger than the 1.5 million people who were moved because of the Three Gorges Dam hydro-electric project.

After being named acting governor on June 2, 2010, Zhao soon faced a serious geological disaster that killed 20 villagers in a mountainous area in southern Shaanxi on June 19.

"I felt so sad when I stood in front of the huge landslide under which the villagers had been buried," he said.

"There had been a lot of rain in the area and the rains and floods had caused the landslide. Then I made a decision that I should help the people in the disaster-hit areas to have safe living conditions."

Zhao worked in rural areas since 17 after high school graduation and, two years later, he was a repair worker at a local company in Anhui province. The experience of working at the grassroots level made him better understand the people's suffering and needs, he said.

Zhao was elected governor of Shaanxi at the fourth plenary session of the provincial people's congress on Jan 22.

The huge projects will need a large amount of investment and the initial budget is about 110 billion yuan ($16.8 billion).

"We'll raise the funds from various channels and half of the total investment for the projects will be paid by the government," Zhao said.

The governor said the rapid development of Shaanxi during the period of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010) laid a solid foundation for the province's development during the next five years and beyond.

In the past five years, the annual income of urban and rural people in Shaanxi reached 15,500 yuan and 3,780 yuan, a rise of 88 percent and 84 percent compared to 2005.

By Ma Lie, China Daily
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