“It’s time to accelerate the relocation of people living along the Yellow River floodplain and improve their lives,” said Premier Li Keqiang during a visit to Central China’s Henan province on May 8.
At a relocation center in the beach area in Fengqiu county, Xinxiang city, Premier Li presided over an on-site meeting, and discussed with related officials how to accelerate the relocation of local residents.
Before the meeting, Premier Li inspected the Yellow River beach area in rainy weather. “Relocation is not just about 2 million people’s lives in such areas, but also about lasting harness and peace of the Yellow River,” he said.
“We are looking forward to moving out,” said Yang Tianjie, one of the villagers who had paid a deposit for construction of a new house away from the floodplain.
Almost 2 million people live in the area with insufficient infrastructure facilities, across 3,100 square kilometers in 42 counties of Henan and Shandong provinces, making up a cross-provincial poverty belt.
“For a long time, the issue of Yellow River concerned the country’s stability and development,” said the Premier. Lifting people in the area out of poverty is an important part of the national poverty relief strategy, he added.
To ensure security during flood season, infrastructure and industrial projects are banned in those areas by related laws and regulations, leading to backward and unstable local residents’ lives.
The meeting gave priority to a three-year relocation task, which will be carried out in perilous low-laying beach areas, to secure the Yellow River and develop the beach areas.
In the past 70 years, more than 30 floods occurred in the Yellow River beach areas, and the one in 1996 affected nearly 1.2 million people.
Villager Li Qinghe is one of the residents relocated from the poor living situation in the Yellow River beach to residential buildings with elevators. So far, more than 2,000 households from Li’s village have moved into new homes.
“The residents in the floodplain used to live in constant fear of flooding. The relocation has brought them settled lives with newly built infrastructure, such as hospitals and schools,” said the Premier at the on-site meeting, adding that the relocation has brought actual benefits to the people.
He also said at the meeting that the relocation work in the Yellow River floodplain is concerned with the national overall situation, so detailed plans should be carefully developed.
As local conditions vary, residents’ willingness should be respected during the relocation, and the government should give more investment support, raise funds through multiple channels, and give more support in poverty alleviation, infrastructure and industrial development, said the Premier.
He then asked people in charge from related departments to give full support to the relocation work along the Yellow River beach areas. “The relocation is not only of strategic importance to ensure the long-term stability in the region along the Yellow River, but also a fundamental policy to help the people out of poverty,” said the Premier.