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Shaanxi to Relocate 2.7 Mln People

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More than 2.79 million Shaanxi Province residents will be asked to pack their bags and move to another part of the province starting next year. The mammoth project is part of an effort to reduce the danger from natural disasters such as landslides and the collapse of homes, the provincial government said Tuesday.

The project will relocate 2.4 million residents from three cities in southern Shaanxi and 392,000 from northern Shaanxi including part of Yulin and Yan'an, the Shaanxi-based Chinese Business View newspaper reported Tuesday.

The total number of people being forced to move is higher than those who moved to make way for the Three Gorges Dam Project, the report said. Some 1.5 million people had to move for the dam.

"We have to resettle these people in remote mountain areas who are still living in the worst living conditions," Zhao Yongzheng, the acting governor of Shaanxi Province, said Monday, according to the report.

According to Zhao, the project will take a decade to "move people into safe and convenient places."

Shaanxi is one of China's most common victims of geological disasters including mud-rock slides and nearly half of the province is disaster-prone, according to the provincial government's website.

Eight died and 57 went missing during floods and mudslides caused by heavy rainfalls in Ankang, Shaanxi Province this summer, the Xinhua News Agency reported. The govern-ment is encouraging people with higher incomes to move to urban areas. Also, new villages will be built to relocate villagers and small villages will be merged into larger ones, the report said.

The government also promised to provide subsidies for the resettlement.

Zhang He, an official from the press office of the provincial government, told the Global Times Tuesday that the government has not decided on the subsidy budget as yet and the plan is just a rough draft with few details.

However, Zhang said that the government would build the basic infrastructure for the villagers, including clinics and schools. Besides, the government also promised to provide technical training for at least one member of each migrant household.

Ai Jie of Yan'an, Shaanxi Province, told the Global Times he supports the idea because it is less expensive and more convenient for the government to relocate the villagers than to draw water or install electricity in remote areas.

However, some villagers expressed their unwillingness to leave their homeland.

"The question is how we can make a living after we are resettled," He Bin, 28, a villager of Yanchuan county, told the Global Times Tuesday.

He and his family are scheduled to leave their homes under the plan and they are worried about being homesick after they move.

(Global Times December 8, 2010)

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