More than 40 heritage buildings in the capital are in a state of neglect and disrepair, the Beijing News reported on Wednesday. And it's often hard to do anything about the problem because the rules on penalties and compensation are unclear.
The newspaper said that the city's cultural relics department had asked the tenants of 20 heritage buildings to correct the problems within a year.
In some cases, tenants haven't installed proper facilities to protect the old buildings, made of wood and bricks, from fire and lightning, said Hao Dongchen, the city cultural relic department official.
"In one heritage building, the former residence of a prince, we found about 160 gas cylinders being stored by residents. If one explodes, it will be disastrous," Hao said.
Several heritage buildings were not properly maintained and residents had also added new buildings on the sites, which threatened the old structures, he said.
Among 20 newly added heritage buildings, half are occupied by central government departments, Hao said.
The authority had denounced residents in 34 other heritage buildings in past two years but only five old buildings had been fully repaired.
The authority can not effectively push owners and tenants to speed up repairs because of a lack of detailed regulations, said Yu Ping, deputy head of the city cultural relic department.
"Some heritage buildings are overcrowded but without clear compensation rules, it is hard to move people out," he said.
The capital city has identified more than 320 heritage buildings under state and municipal protection. As of 2005, about 60 percent were inhabited or being used as offices.
(Xinhua News Agency February 20, 2008)