Shaanxi plans to move 2.7m to safer areas

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, May 13, 2011
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Twice as big as the Three Gorges Dam relocation project, China's largest-ever migration is under way in Shaanxi Province: 2.7 million people will leave their homes in mountainous areas over the next decade and head for a new life.

About 2.4 million will be moved from 28 mountainous counties and cities in the Qinba areas south of the province that are prone to a major flood every 3.5 years, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

A further 392,000 people in Baiyu areas in the north of the province will also be relocated. Baiyu's problem is drought, the agency reported: In extreme cases, villagers living in these areas have one shower a year.

"The goal of the project is to improve people's livelihood," Shaanxi Governor Zhao Zhengyong told Xinhua. "Those migrants will live in a safer and more convenient environment. The government will not force any one of them to move."

"The Qinba areas suffered serious damage in the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake and it's hit by floods and landslides almost every summer due to heavy rainfall," a disaster-relief office staff member under the Civil Affairs Bureau of Hanzhong, a city in the southwest corner of Shaanxi, told the Global Times on condition of anonymity.

"These mountainous areas are not suitable for living. So the relocation project will benefit people in these areas a lot."

A Baiyu villager told Xinhua he felt reluctant to move.

"I have lived here for more than 50 years," Gao Xueping reportedly said. "But if I stay, my children will be bound to poverty like me."

The rural migrants can choose to live in Shaanxi towns, cities or industrialized areas, Xinhua reported.

Farmers are encouraged to move to urban areas where new villages and towns will be built. Migrants will be trained with skills to earn a living and each village will have "one or two pillar products," the report said.

Citing local officials, it is estimated the entire project – including industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization – will take a decade to complete.

The total cost is estimated at 115.94 billion yuan (US$17.84 billion), according to People's Daily. The provincial government has allocated 1 billion yuan for initiating the project.

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