Beijing Water

‘Modern homes’ may not satisfy shifted farmers

June 3, 2010

Moving water from the Yangtze River across half of China to its parched north is a massive technical and engineer undertaking – but authorities are finding a greater challenge in resettling the people whose homes are in the path of the project.

The water will be diverted via three routes: eastern, middle and western. The middle route alone involves relocating about 330,000 people in central China’s Hubei and Henan provinces.

Hubei announced a successful trial relocation of 12,000 migrants on May 24. The trial took nine months. But with plans to relocate 31,293 people by August 31, signs of discontent are leaking through the cracks of a massive social program to relocate them.

Hubei relocation authorities outlined their policies to help migrants on Monday, including a grant of 0.1 hectare (1.6 mu) of land per person compared with the provincial average of 0.05 hectare.

However, much of the compensation is not as valuable as it appears, say some migrants. Relocated migrant Zhang Yonglong is resigned to his fate, but not happy about it. Zhang, who is waiting for his new home to be built, said he received more than 124,000 yuan for his 1.4-hectare orange grove and more than 90,000 yuan for his old building back in his hometown Jiangju village, Danjiangkou City. Zhang’s 178-square-meter new home in Gucheng County sits in the center of the county, an hour’s drive from his hometown near Danjiangkou Reservoir.

In the old town, Zhang said, his orange grove earned him more than 50,000 yuan a year, and he could make a living from fishing, growing traditional medicine herbs and raising livestock.

Now he has 0.1 hectare of flat land that he has no clue how to plow. Even if he did, it would earn far less than his orange grove. The oranges produced near the Danjiangkou Reservoir were a prized export to Japan, South Korea and Russia.

Some officials and local residents say the migrants are exaggerating their incomes to bargain for more favorable polices. “It’s human nature to think of what’s lost as the most precious. It’s also human nature to speak for one’s own benefit,” said Li Guangxian, a relocation official in Xiangfan, Hubei’s second largest city.

But for others, it’s not just about money. Wang Li, 30, and her parents are to be moved from Wudang Mountain, a world cultural heritage site and sacred Taoist mountain.

“We love our tranquil life here,” Wang said. Her wood-brick house on lower Wudang Mountain is sheltered by tall trees and faces a vast stretch of water. Taoism is part of Wang’s life. But she worries most about her parents who have lived on Wudang Mountain for decades.

“My parents are so used to living in harmony and unity with nature, as promoted in Taoist philosophy. I wonder if they can fit into the worldly environment at the resettlement site.”

Provincial authorities said on Monday: “We do not force the people to move; we persuade them by trying hard to meet their demands and relieve their worries.”

Read the original story here.

Categories: Beijing Water

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