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Latest News
Special> Aftermath of the Quake> Latest News
UPDATED: June 13, 2008  
Fix Transport First in China Quake Zone
Reconstruction in the zones shattered by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12 will give priority to transport facilities

Reconstruction in the zones shattered by the 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12 will give priority to transport facilities, the person drafting the State Council's post-quake reconstruction regulation said here Thursday.

"The May 12 earthquake has done great damage to the roads in the quake zones," Cao Kangtai, director with the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, told a press conference Thursday afternoon.

"The reason why we give transportation top priority in the post-quake reconstruction regulation is these roads are vital for the reconstruction of other public facilities. They serve as the major means of access for construction materials."

He added reconstruction of power supply facilities would be another focus of the work at hand, while housing, schools, hospitals and other public facilities would also be addressed.

Cao urged local authorities to monitor protection of ethnic cultural relics during the relief work and post-quake reconstruction.

"A lot of cultural relics, especially those of China's ethnic groups, were seriously damaged during the quake. For instance, the quake-ravaged Beichuan County is China's only Qiang autonomous county. The Beichuan Qiang Nationality Museum, the only one in the entire country, and its 500-plus exhibits were also destroyed in the earthquake."

Local authorities should strictly follow the State Council's post-quake reconstruction regulation to mount more efforts in the cleaning, repair and protection of cultural relics in the quake zone.

The regulation also echoed environmental concerns of the government and the public, according to Cao. The issue is incorporated into seven articles of the 80-article regulation.

"The earthquake has caused serious damage to local environment," he said. "We took environmental protection as a major issue for concern when we were drawing up the regulations to prevent any more damage to the already fragile environment in rebuilding."

Under the regulation, relevant departments should properly arrange the location of temporary housing and their supporting facilities.

The temporary settlements should occupy as little farmland as possible and avoid harming natural reserves, drinking water sources and vulnerable ecological areas.

Factors including pollution, ecological damage and the bearing capacity of resources and the environment should be included in the after-quake assessment work, the regulation read.

To ensure effective implementation of relevant rebuilding work, the regulation clarifies competent bodies for different tasks, Cao said.

The China Earthquake Administration will lead the work in after-quake assessment, while the National Development and Reform Commission will lead the compilation of the reconstruction plan and local governments will be responsible for the plan's implementation.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and its subordinate agencies will supervise the quality of new projects, while the financial and audit departments will monitor the use of capital and materials.

The Ministry of Supervision and its subordinate agencies will deal with government workers' wrongdoing.

China promulgated the regulation on reconstruction on June 9 following the devastating earthquake a month ago.

Premier Wen Jiabao on June 8 signed a State Council order to make it effective.

It was the first of its kind in the country that specifies penalties for substandard reconstruction work.

The death toll from the May 12 disaster rose to 69,159 as of Thursday noon, while 17,469 others were still missing, the State Council Information Office said.

(Xinhua News Agency June 12, 2008)

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