Special report: Reconstruction After Earthquake
CHENGDU, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Work on a new seat for Beichuan County, the worst-hit area in last year's 8.0-magnitude earthquake in southwest China, will start in late February, said local planner Monday.
The former seat of Beichuan, on the juncture of two fault lines, was leveled in the devastating May 12 quake. The area was prone to landslides and rock or mud flows before the quake. Officials decided not to rebuild in the area.
The new seat is between Yong'an Town and Anchang Town, about 23km from the former county seat. It is named after the two towns as Yongchang Town, which means "eternal prosperity" in Chinese.
"The new site has good geologic conditions and sufficient usable land and is distant from fault lines," said Yang Baojun, chief planner with the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design and one of the planners of the new site.
Construction will be carried out in three phases. The first includes public welfare facilities, government headquarters and housing. The first phase will cost 19.32 billion yuan (2.84 billion U.S. dollars), of which the eastern Shandong Province will provide 6 billion yuan.
The first phase will cover 3 sq km, including an industrial park of 2 sq km. The new town is expected to have 50,000 residents in three years and expand to more than 9 sq km by 2020 with 85,000residents, Yang said.
Seven schools, which will also serve as emergency shelters, will be built in the new town, according to the Beichuan government.
The new building of the Beichuan Middle School, one of the hardest-hit schools in the quake, was designed by experts from Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Hong Kong and Tsinghua University.
The building, which can hold 5,000 students, will cover 15 hectares and cost 260 million yuan.
The public welfare facilities, including schools, government buildings and hospitals, are scheduled for completion in 2010, a county government official said.
Beichuan, a mountainous area, is the ancestral home of an ethnic group known as the Qiang, who number 300,000. They have their own language, food and performing arts, all of which face extinction as their homes were in the worst-hit parts of the quake zone.
The county seat will have ethnic Qiang characteristics and a "garden city" to promote tourism in western Sichuan Province, Yang said.
The quake left more than 69,000 people dead and 374,000 injured. Another 18,000 are missing and millions were left homeless.