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Reconstruction of quake damage in Sichuan nearly over

By Liu Xiangrui and Huang Zhiling (China Daily)

10:38, February 26, 2012

BEIJING - Workers have almost finished rebuilding the parts of Southwest China's Sichuan province that were hit by a deadly earthquake in 2008, a vice-governor of Sichuan announced on Friday.

The province has finished 99 percent of the nearly 30,000 projects called for by a national-level reconstruction plan that was assembled by the State Council shortly after the devastating Wenchuan earthquake hit the province in 2008, according to Wei Hong, vice-governor of Sichuan, who also led the province's reconstruction committee.

Moreover, 13,647 provincial-level projects have been essentially completed in 12 counties that were greatly damaged by the disaster and 91 counties that were not quite so badly damaged, Wei said.

In more than three years, 1.7 trillion yuan ($270 billion) has been spent on restoration, reconstruction and development in the quake-hit counties, he said.

"Like the reconstruction work itself, it's a miracle that we have ensured the safety of our fund and have opened no doors to big problems, so the heavy investments by the government have come in such a short period," Wei said.

During the work, the provincial government has placed a great emphasis on the need for supervision of the reconstruction money.

"We have taken the steps needed to strengthen our supervision in accordance with the traits and requirements of reconstruction, mainly by improving the control of the budget and managing the funds through special accounts," he said.

Nearly 9,000 audit teams have monitored the reconstruction projects. Nine times in the past three years, the National Audit Office has released the results of audits conducted on the quake-relief fund.

Meanwhile, the province has received about 20 billion yuan in donations from the society, including from organizations abroad.

The donations have been co-managed by the provincial charitable union, the provincial branch of the Red Cross Society of China and the provincial financial department.

"We respect the will of the donors," Wei said. "And for those donors who didn't have clear donation directions, we'll place their donations into the reconstruction plan and use them to improve people's livelihoods."

In 2010, details about the donation fund were released four times on the provincial government's official website.

The government has repaired and rebuilt houses for more than 5.4 million households containing more than 12 million urban and rural residents and achieved its goal of "providing a home for every family" a year in advance.

The residences and other buildings in the quake zone were built in keeping with national and provincial standards, explained Yang Hongbo, head of the provincial construction department.

"There were many reconstruction projects and the tasks were heavy and there was little time," Yang said. "But we ensured the quality of the buildings by deploying special safety supervisors."

About 200,000 farmers who lost their land in the quake have moved. The government has helped more than 1.7 million people affected by the quake find jobs.

The economic and social development of the quake zone has surpassed what it was before the quake. From 2007 to 2011, Sichuan's GDP doubled to exceed 2 trillion yuan.

Even so, he said much must be done to fully restore the quake zone, which encompasses a large area and was relatively undeveloped before the disaster.

As the reconstruction work comes to an end, the number of jobs that are being created by that work is decreasing. Boosting employment in the quake zone will be a large task for local governments, he said.

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