November 21st, 2008 08:36 EST
Sichuan To Invest 3 Trln Yuan by 2010
Authorities in quake-hit Sichuan Province in southwest China plan to invest at least 3 trillion yuan (441 billion U.S. dollars) for reconstruction by 2010, executive vice provincial governor Wei Hong said on Friday.
About 1.67 trillion yuan is needed to rebuild the 139 counties hit by the 8.0-magnitude quake in May, with investment in other development projects to reach almost 700 billion yuan each year between 2008-2010, Wei told a press conference in Beijing.
Under those estimates, spending could approach 3.7 trillion yuan.
Wei said that "the central and provincial governments can only provide 800 billion yuan, or about a fifth of the total investment needed, so we will raise funds from banks, the capital market and donations" to get the rest.
He said reconstruction investment will be 790 billion yuan this year and 1.2 trillion yuan next year.
As of the end of October, the central government had allocated almost 34.5 billion yuan for post-disaster reconstruction and five major banks had agreed to lend 64.73 billion yuan, Wei told reporters.
In addition, Sichuan had reached 1,152 reconstruction agreements with other provinces as well as the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, with a planned investment totaling27 billion yuan, he added.
The 8.0-magnitude quake centered in Sichuan`s Wenchuan County left more than 69,000 people dead, 374,000 injured, 18,000 missing and millions homeless.
More than 31,000 aftershocks have been reported since, with the strongest measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale.
In terms of the intensity and scope of destruction, the May 12 quake is believed to have surpassed the 7.8-magnitude quake in 1976 in Tangshan, northern Hebei Province, which claimed more than240,000 lives.
FREEZING WEATHER THREATENS QUAKE SURVIVORS
Freezing weather would hit parts of quake-stricken areas this winter, and residents there need more quilts, Wei said.
Sichuan has seen more rainy and cold days this winter than past years and the temperature was 0.5 to 1 degree Celsius lower than usual, according to meteorologists.
Statistics show the worst quake-stricken areas, mostly in high mountains, report an average temperature of 7 to minus 3 degrees in winter. The lowest was recorded in Songpan County, or minus 2.8degrees.
Residents living in quake-affected and remote mountainous areas need 3.6 million quilts and 3.6 million cotton-padded clothes, Wei said.
"Some elderly people and children are in need of basic equipment to keep them warm. Residents in some quake-stricken areas even face the tough issue of provisions for this winter and the coming spring," he said.
So far, the province has received 3.274 million quilts, 3.658 million cotton clothes and 300,000 electric blankets and heaters, including donations from across the country and purchases by the provincial government, he said.
Some 6,489 families, mostly in the two worst-stricken counties of Beichuan and An`xian, are still living in tents because it was difficult to select sites for rebuilding houses, Wei said.
"Local authorities are busy making prefab homes to enable those residents to move in by the end of this month," he said.
As of Nov. 12, the province had rebuilt houses for 195,000 rural families, or about 15.5 percent of the reconstruction plan, and another 685,000 homes are under reconstruction in the countryside, he added.
According to Chen Kefu, deputy director of the Sichuan Provincial Civil Affairs Department, the province sill needs 330,000 quilts and more electric blankets and heaters.
"We aim to send those quilts, clothes and electric blankets and heaters to the hands of the affected people by the end of this month," he told reporters in Beijing.
SUICIDES RAISE PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH CONCERNS AGAIN
China is paying more attention to the psychological health of officials in Sichuan after two people committed suicide.
"We have imposed compulsory measures for grass-roots officials to show we care about them. We told them they must take breaks during their relief work," Wei said.
He did not provide details about those measures, however, media reports have said officials in the quake zone have been ordered to take vacations and have been offered medical check-ups.
Psychological rehabilitation has become a major issue during the reconstruction project, as the 8.0-magnitude quake left more than 87,000 dead or missing and millions homeless.
He Zonghua, 40, director of the human resources and training department of the general office of Mianyang city government, committed suicide by jumping out a 15th-floor hotel room this Wednesday. According to a police investigation, He suffered from depression before he died. His colleagues said he complained of insomnia and bad health. He also appeared anxious and worried at work.
In October, a county agriculture and disaster relief director in the same city hung himself.
The emotional toll from the quake isn`t just being shown in suicides.
A third official, Luo Shibin, 45, who was in charge of relocation in Pingwu County, died after an artery in his brain burst, due to overwork late last month, the government and doctors said.
"Most of our officials and people have gradually overcome the psychological shadow of the quake. A few are still dealing with psychological issues because the calamity caused huge losses for them," Wei said. "We are very sympathetic about the recent suicides."
Wei said the government has paid great attention to the psychological health of people and officials in quake-hit areas.
"Special lectures on psychological intervention have been arranged and more than 600 officials have received training over the past months," Wei said.
The provincial authorities have opened special clinics in hospitals at various levels in the quake zone and recruited more than 1,000 experts offering psychological services, he added.
19,000 DEAD IDENTIFIED
China has published a list containing the names, birth places, where they died and other basic information of 19,065 people killed during the May quake, Wei said.
It is the first time for the government to announced such detailed information about the dead and more lists will be published, he said.
Wei did not provide a specific figure about the students toll.
"Because the total number of the people killed in the quake is still being checked, so there is still no final figure about the students toll," he said.