A southwest China county that was devastated in the catastrophic May 12 earthquake in 2008 will rise again in eight months, local authorities said Thursday.
"Beichuan's new county seat will take shape before Oct. 1," said Jing Dazhong, head of the county government, at the ongoing session of Sichuan Provincial People's Congress.
Jing is a deputy to the local parliament.
"All the 245 reconstruction projects are in full swing. You see changes in the county almost every day," he said.
The projects involve a total investment of 16.7 billion yuan (2.46 billion U.S. dollars).
More than 150 new apartment buildings have been built for people living in prefabricated houses since their homes were destroyed in the quake. "At least 30,000 people will move into new homes in May," said Jing.
Construction of the new campus of Beichuan Middle School could also be completed before May 12, the second anniversary of the quake, he said. "Students could move into the new school before the fall semester starts on Sept. 1."
Of the planned 36 km of urban roads in the new county seat, 20 km had been completed, he said.
By Oct. 1, the basic functions of the county seat would have been restored. "But we'll keep improving infrastructure over the next five years," said Jing.
By 2020, the county would have transformed from rural town to an industrial center, with an industrial park at the center, Jing said.
"Twenty-four businesses have decided to settle in the park, of which seven have begun building new offices there," he said.
Beichuan's new county seat, about 23 kilometers to the south of the old one, covers 10 square km and will be a political, economic and cultural center.
Jing said the new county seat would also serve as a tourism service base in western Sichuan, an industrial base of western Mianyang City, a cultural center of the unique Qiang ethnic group, and an ecological park.
The quake, measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale and up to 11 in terms of intensity, left almost 80,000 people dead or missing and millions homeless.