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Slum, shanty towns to be removed from Urumqi , capital of Xinjiang

07-11-2010 10:29 BJT

URUMQI, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Excavators move back and forth at Heijiashan area, Tianshan district of Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, demolishing one of Urumqi's shanty towns, which used to house 200,000 people.

Ablikim Mamet is negotiating with community workers on a contract for compensation for the demolition of his house. He has been in a dispute with the government over his 440-square-meter bungalow, half of which was unlicensed. He hopes to move into a new home after he reaches an agreement.

Most of the homes in Heijiashan, one of the several shanty towns in Urumqi, had no utilities, gas or heating, and the area was considered a hotbed of poverty and crime.

Adljan, director of the demolition coordination team of Heijiashan area said "floating population here often disrupted social order."

Heijiashan was hit hard by riots in Urumqi on July 5 last year that left 197 people dead and more than 1,600 injured in the capital city of Xinjiang.

"Due to the poor management of the area, the migrants were easily incited by rioters," he said.

Earlier this year, Premier Wen Jiabao said that transformation of shanty towns was vital for the improvement of people's livelihoods. The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development then ordered local governments to reform shanty towns, especially the homes of those facing financial difficulties.

Urumqi started the project of transforming shanty towns and slums earlier this year and planned to allocate 300 billion yuan (44.1 billion U.S. dollars) in five years to complete the project, part of which covered more than 1,500 households in Ablikim' s neighborhood.

Xie Min, deputy director of the work office of Urumqi's slum transformation, said most of the houses in Urumqi's shanty towns had been used for more than four decades and were not earthquake resistant.

After an 8-magnitude earthquake struck Wenchuan in southwestern China's Sichuan Province on May 12, 2008, the Central Government had asked that all houses in the country be made earthquake resistant.

Xie said the new residential buildings, coming up in place of shanty towns, will meet quake resistant standards and will have complete infrastructure settings and public facilities such as schools, kindergartens and clinics.

"Management of the floating population and grassroots self-governance will also be strengthened," he said. Residents who have their houses demolished will receive new houses of the same floor areas, or money equal to housing prices of the same region, he added.

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