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Lushan post-quake work to cost nearly $14b

By Wnag Qian (China Daily)

10:25, July 16, 2013

China estimates post-quake reconstruction in Lushan county, Sichuan province, will cost up to 86 billion yuan ($13.9 billion) over the next three years, according to a government plan released on Monday.

A magnitude-7 earthquake hit Lushan county in Sichuan province on April 20, killing nearly 200 people and injuring almost 14,800.

A post-quake reconstruction plan released by the State Council, China's cabinet, on its website said that besides government fiscal spending, recovery funds will come from various channels, such as donations and foreign loans.

It said companies and individuals participating in post-quake reconstruction would receive tax breaks to encourage donations and support rebuilding.

Preferential land and financial measures will also be available to support the rebuilding, according to the plan.

The plan covers a severely hit area of 10,706 square kilometers that includes six counties in Ya'an and six towns in Chengdu, with a population of 1.15 million as of the end of 2012.

Under the plan, 3,787 families in regions at high risk from geological disasters will be moved and 22 disaster shelters will be built.

Within three years, every family in the quake-hit region will have an apartment and every family with members capable of working will have at least one job, while living conditions in the rebuilt areas are expected to be better than before the quake.

Considering the natural beauty of the landscape and biological diversity of the area, the plan sets tourism as the priority industry in reconstruction, proposing that about 9,135 sq km, more than 85 percent of the rebuilt area, will be a biological protection zone.

In addition, the disaster relief and emergency rescue system in Sichuan will be improved, enhancing the monitoring and warning capacity for natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding, the plan said.

An audit report of reconstruction funds will be released to the public to prevent graft and other abuses.

Yuan Hongyong, deputy director of Tsinghua University's Center for Public Safety Research, emphasized the importance of environmental risk assessments before reconstruction.

"Since 2008, strong earthquakes in Sichuan have loosened the soil on mountains, which poses threats of potential geological disasters," Yuan said, adding the reconstruction plan must make a comprehensive study of possible natural disasters in the quake-hit regions, considering extreme weather events such as strong rainstorms and severe drought.

Jin Lei, vice-chairman of the China Association for Disaster Prevention, agreed that disaster prevention should be a priority in reconstruction work.

In May 2008, a devastating quake in Wenchuan county, Sichuan, claimed at least 69,227 lives, injuring 374,643 people and leaving 17,923 missing, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

The three-year reconstruction effort after the Wenchuan earthquake cost 1.7 trillion yuan.

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