3 years after quake, Sichuan rises again

Three years after a devastating earthquake, the worst-hit areas in Sichuan and neighboring provinces, phoenix-like, have risen from the rubble.

Ninety-five percent of reconstruction projects have been completed, with the remainder set to be finished by the end of September, Mu Hong, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the top economic planning agency, said on Tuesday at a news briefing hosted by the State Council Information Office.

By the end of April, 885.15 billion yuan ($136 billion), or 92.37 percent of the overall reconstruction budget, had been spent, according to official figures from the NDRC.

In Sichuan alone, nearly 3,000 schools, 1,000 hospitals and more than 5 million homes have been built or renovated, according to Wei Hong, executive vice-governor of Sichuan province.

Mu said government goals for reconstruction have been basically met.

“Now every family has been provided a home and a job, and everyone is protected by social security. Infrastructure has been upgraded, the economy developed and ecology improved,” he said.

The 8.0-magnitude earthquake jolted Wenchuan and surrounding areas on May 12, 2008, killing at least 87,000 people and leaving millions homeless. Neighboring provinces, such as Gansu and Shaanxi, were also affected.

Premier Wen Jiabao praised the rebuilding work on Monday at a meeting in Dujiangyan, Sichuan, at the conclusion of a three-day inspection tour.

He said there had been an improvement in people’s livelihood compared with pre-quake levels, and progress had been made in social and economic development.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao embraces Zheng Haiyang, a student at Beichuan Middle School in Sichuan province, during a visit on Sunday to the quake-hit county of Beichuan. Both of Zheng’s legs were amputated after he was injured in the May 12, 2008 earthquake. (Photo:China Daily)

He recalled that on the 12th day after the quake, he had said: “A new Wenchuan will rise from the ruins.”

On Monday, he saw his words had come true.

“Now incredible changes have taken place in the quake-hit areas, I feel very relieved,” he said.

During the trip, his 10th to the province since the quake, he visited middle schools and neighborhoods.

Zhu Lihu, principal of Magong village primary school in Qingchuan county, told China Daily that teaching facilities had been upgraded.

The new two-story concrete building houses classrooms, a library and a computer room equipped with 20 PCs, “way much better” than the previous school, built in the 1960s with mud bricks.

The new school was financed by the city of Quzhou, Zhejiang province, in accordance with a State Council reconstruction plan. The plan links economically developed coastal regions with quake regions to help finance rebuilding projects.

Dong Xinjun, a resident in Qingchuan county’s Qiaolou village, said volunteers from Zhejiang’s Rui’an city taught him how to grow mushrooms and he earns about 3,000 yuan more annually than before.

Shaanxi Vice-Governor Jiang Zelin told the briefing the cities of Hanzhong and Baoji in the province, which were hit by the quake, had fully recovered, with farmers’ annual income nearly double compared with three years ago.

Reconstruction in Shaanxi has created 260,000 jobs, Jiang added.

Source: China Daily

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