Special report: Reconstruction After Earthquake
CHENGDU, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- A plan for rebuilding the county seat of Beichuan, devastated in the 8.0-magnitude May 12 earthquake, went through an expertise appraisal by China's construction authority on Saturday.
The plan is still in the procedure of public comment.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction approved the plan for rebuilding the Beichuan county seat in Huangtu township in neighboring Anxian county, which is about 20 km away from the original place.
According to the plan, a 10-sq.km. county seat will take shape in three years in the first phase, which will have public welfare facilities, government headquarters and housing.
The core area will have a population of 61,000. Over 80 percent of the residents are expected to be earthquake survivors, who will live in low-rent houses and affordable homes.
The plan drafted by the China Urban Planning and Design Institute aims to turn the new county seat into a cultural city featuring ethnic Qiang characteristics and a biological gardening city serving for tourism promotion in picturesque western Sichuan Province.
Budget for the first-phase construction is estimated at 19.32 billion yuan (2.84 billion U.S. dollars).
"The rebuilding plan should take considerations of both rebuilding and development, which must be carried out in an environmentally friendly way," said Yin Zhi, director of the Urban Design Research Institute under Tsinghua University, who was among the experts to give the appraisal of the rebuilding plan.
Beichuan, a mountainous area, is the ancestral home of a Chinese ethnic group of people known as Qiang. They number 300,000.
The seat of the Beichuan county government was leveled in the quake. Officials decided not to rebuild in the area because it is close to a fault line.
Li Huagang, who is in charge of supporting reconstruction efforts from Shandong Province, said the rebuilding plan is expected to be finalized and published in February.
The May 12 earthquake left more than 69,000 people dead and 374,000 injured. Another 18,000 are missing and millions were left homeless.