(May 7, 2009)
By Yu Wei
Secretary-General of Sichuan Provincial People’s Government
Spokesman of Sichuan Provincial Government
Dear friends from the press,
It has been almost a year since the “5.12” Wenchuan massive earthquake happened, during which period the post-disaster restoration and reconstruction work of our province has received wide attention from the international community and the whole nation has given its vigorous support. Therefore, on behalf of Sichuan Provincial People’s Government as well as people in the affected areas I’d like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the people of all circles who have shown their great support and assistance to the reconstruction efforts in Sichuan Province, and journalists who have committed to a long-term focus on the quake-stricken areas and reported our progress of reconstruction to the world.
In accordance with the requirement of the State Council that the objectives and tasks of post-disaster restoration and reconstruction should be basically completed within 2 years rather than 3 years as originally scheduled, Sichuan Provincial Party Committee and Sichuan Provincial People’s Government have proposed that around 85% of both the estimated investment and the accumulated projects of completion under the state planning should be finished during the period from September of 2008 when the State Council enacted General Planning for Restoration and Reconstruction after Wenchuan Earthquake to September of 2010. By then, we will have “provided residence and job opportunity for each household and guarantee for every person, upgraded infrastructures, developed economy and improved the ecological system”, enabling the basic living conditions as well as the economic and social development in the affected areas in general to reach or even exceed the level before the disaster happened.
As demanded by the provincial Party committee and the provincial people’s government, post-disaster restoration and reconstruction work should carried out on the basis of “seeking truth from facts”, and further efforts should be given to define, accentuate and stay focused on the top priority of all work so as to guarantee the quality and security of the reconstruction efforts against any over-standard and unpractical implementation. It is also demanded that basic importance should be attached to the livelihood of the people and expediting reconstruction of livelihood projects should be regarded as the top priority of all reconstruction efforts in order to complete first the projects of foremost urgency and maximum profit return. Besides, the satisfaction of and recognition by the people should be regarded as the criterion to judge the progress and quality of the reconstruction task. A scientific and unified planning should serve as a leading principle so as to balance both reconstruction and development, achieve both restoration and upgrading, and dedicate concentrated manpower and material supply to the orderly and effective resolving of key and difficult tasks.
As for urban and rural housing reconstruction, efforts should be made to guarantee the basic completion in the rural areas by the end of September and entire completion by the end of this year while the task will be completely finished in the urban areas by May of 2010. Currently, a total of 241000 households of permanent residence in rural areas of Sichuan province are under construction and another 1008000 households have already been finished, accounting for 19% and 79.8% of the total number respectively; the figures in the urban areas register 105000 and 33000, accounting for 33.5% and 10.4% of the total number. Regarding restoration and reconstruction of schools and medical institutions, over 95% of the students will be able to attend classes in permanent school buildings by the end of this year and all the students in affected areas will get out of the temporarily constructed plank schoolhouses before the spring semester kicks off next year. So far, 73.3% of school reconstructions in the 39 severely-affected counties (cities/districts) under state planning have already started. It is ensured that basic public utilities including medical and health infrastructures will achieve a completion rate of 99% within 2 years. To date, 46.1% of the restoration and reconstruction work for medical and public health organizations above village level have also started. As for the resettlement of farmers suffering disaster-incurred land losses, the principle of proximity has been implemented for dispersed relocation near land sources. Adjusted housing sites has reached 12000mu and arable land 23000mu through means of proximity resettlement by returning the farmers to their villages, trans-county (city/district) relocation within city boundaries and trans-city (prefecture) relocation within provincial boundaries. While resettlement within city (prefecture) limits has reached 99.7%, the efforts beyond city (prefecture) boundaries are right now progressing nicely. To promote urban and rural employment in the affected areas, the scope of employment assistance has been greatly extended with measures of increasing public posts, deferring the collection of social insurance premiums, enhancing employment training programs and building up new platforms of labor output. As a result, 1.296million affected people have benefited and found jobs. Regarding mental health services in the affected areas, experts both from home and abroad as well as strengths from all circles have been integrated to form a five-star mental health service network. Hotlines are set up and various forms of psychological treatment and appeasement are conducted. Efforts are even doubled to the specific group of people during the key period and phase. Grass-roots government officials deserve genuine solicitude and lectures on psychological intervention by experts should be organized. Outbound study and inspection tours should also be arranged and compulsory paid leave should be implemented, all in an effort to solve practical difficulties and alleviate mental pressures. As for the construction of a disaster-prevention and reducing mechanism, Sichuan Provincial Party Committee and Provincial People’s Government have unveiled decisions regarding the enhancing and improving of contingency management work, instructed to speed up the implementation of the construction planning to build the contingency system during “the 11th five-year plan”, enhance the construction of a contingency command platform at provincial, municipal and county government levels, expedite the construction of professional rescue teams and strengthen the management of emergency material management so as to fully upgrade our capabilities of dealing with possible incidents and emergency situations. At this point, the post-disaster restoration and reconstruction work of our province is in vigorous, orderly, effective and expedited progress.
My dear friends, at the anniversary of the “5.12” Wenchuan massive earthquake, we’d like to stress again that since the happening of the disaster the whole society has joined hands with people in Sichuan and gone through thick and thin together, offering unselfish and great support to the restoration and reconstruction work in Sichuan province. We’ll never forget that at the critical moments of fighting the earthquake timely assistance poured to us both from home and abroad with vigorous participation in the quake relief efforts, together creating a miracle of fighting the impossible; we’ll never forget that in face of extremely onerous tasks of post-disaster reconstruction other provinces and cities were passionately offering their fastest and maximum help by conducting pairing-assistance with a great number of people working day and night at the frontier of reconstruction and restoration while having to face the difficulties of being away from their own families and suffering from physical discomforts; we’ll never forget that during the whole process of quake relief to post-disaster reconstruction friends from the press, despite various dangers and all the troubles, weaved through affected areas to give a profound and accurate coverage of countless touching stories and carry forward the greatest spirit of quake fighting, providing powerful public support for the smooth progress of post-disaster reconstruction.
This year being a critical year of post-disaster restoration and reconstruction, we will gather around the leadership of the Party Central Committee and the State Council and rely on the assistance of the whole Party, army and the people of all Chinese nationalities as well as the vigorous support from other provinces (districts/cities) and all circles of the society to work conscientiously and energetically on our own, speed up the construction of a new homeland and bring about an early realization of people living a happy life in the affected areas.
Now, I and the leading officials from the provincial government present here are ready to answer your questions.