|Sichuan post-quake reconstruction completed successfully|
BEIJING, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- The reconstruction of parts of southwest China's Sichuan province, which was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2008, has been completed, the vice governor of Sichuan province announced Friday.
Wei Hong, also the director of the provincial post-quake reconstruction committee office, made the remarks at a press conference on reconstruction achievements ahead of China's annual parliamentary sessions.
Wei said that 99.5 percent of the budget, or 865.8 billion yuan (137.5 billion U.S. dollars), has been invested in post-quake reconstruction efforts, and 99 percent of 29,692 related projects have been completed.
A devastating quake hit Sichuan and neighboring Gansu and Shaanxi provinces in May 2008, leaving more than 80,000 people dead or missing and millions of houses destroyed.
"The few unfinished projects are those that were affected by after-shocks and secondary disasters, which need long-term construction and huge quantities of work," Wei said. "We are making efforts to promote the remaining projects."
Local governments have successfully helped more than 12 million people in rural and urban areas repair their houses, and have relocated 200,000 farmers who lost their farmlands, the vice governor added.
According to official statistics, in 2011, the total output value of the six hardest-hit cities and prefectures was almost double that of the pre-quake period, with urban per capita disposable income growing by 1.7 times and farmers' net income by 1.75 times.
Moreover, Sichuan province doubled its economy from 2007 to 2011, and its total economy hit 2 trillion yuan in 2011.
The province also imported 173 of the world's top 500 enterprises, attracting foreign investment of 11 billion U.S. dollars, and the total volume of imports and exports grew by 54.8 percent in 2011.
"We are determined to further build the quake-hit areas into a prosperous and harmonious land, hoping for more attention and support," he added.
Safeguarding the well-being and bettering the lives of the people in the quake-hit areas has been the top priority on the agenda of relevant local governments, said Wei.
Through efforts made in the past three years, new settlements and a large number of hospitals, schools and cultural facilities have been built for people there, Wei said.
Wei noted that, by the end of 2011, the per capita income of urban residents and rural residents living in the 102 hardest-hit counties reached 17,000 yuan and 6,674 yuan, respectively, showing respective increases of 8,500 yuan and 3,500 yuan.
"Therefore, we can say for sure that the living standards of the people in the quake-hit areas have been raised to a level higher than that prior to the catastrophe," said the vice governor.
To safeguard the security of the massive reconstruction funds, Wei said a special account management system was established to keep a close eye on the circulation of the funds.
Since 2009, audit and supervision departments have organized 8,898 auditing groups and 65 supervision teams to track the entire process of the flow of the funds, said Wei.
The use of social donations from across the nation and overseas, which totaled 20.1 billion yuan, has also been published on the provincial government's website since 2010, Wei said.
Wei also expressed his gratitude to compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, thanking them for their great contributions to quake relief efforts and post-quake reconstruction.
The reconstruction goal has been achieved successfully, but we should be fully aware that the task of maintaining the continuous development of the quake-hit areas remains pressing due to a lack of internal impetus and decreasing jobs as many large-scale reconstruction projects draw to a close, said Wei.
To tackle this problem, Wei said a five-year development plan has been hammered out to invigorate the affected areas by expanding employment, developing competitive industries and bringing in more talents.
In regards to wide concerns that the hardest-hit town of Yingxiu and other quake-hit areas are applying to be listed as national scenic spots in order to exploit tourism resources, Wei said that Yingxiu and another three majorly affected areas have been included by the State Council as four memorial sites for earthquake relics.
Based on the construction of memorial sites, we will turn some parts into delicate tourist spots for people to mourn the dead and carry forward the dauntless quake prevention and quake-relief spirit, Wei said, adding that tourism revenue in Sichuan province hit a record 240 billion yuan last year.
Wei said the provincial government has urged local governments to take note of media suggestions and solicit opinions from local people.
"The residents there have the final say. After all, it's they who will live there for a lifetime," said Wei.