Slum, shanty towns to be removed from Urumqi

Source:Global Times Published: 2010-7-11 9:40:00

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.

For those whose houses were unlicensed due to historical reasons, the owners will be allocated new houses with 70 percent of the floor area or 70 percent of the house cost.

Pan Zhiping, director of the Central Asia Research Institute of Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said, "The transformation of shanty towns is a top priority for safeguarding social stability."

He suggested to take lessons from Singapore and ensure that "each community has residents from different ethnic groups."



Mamet Niyaz lives with his family of nine in a 157-square-meter bungalow in a shanty town of Urumqi's Shayibake district. The family of three generations, which moved here in 1983, also faces demolition.

Mamet's family can either live in a transitional house about one km away, provided by the government, before the construction of their new houses, or live in friend' s or relatives' home while receiving government allowances.

The transitional period usually lasts about 18 to 30 months.

Chen Min, director of the neighborhood community where Mamet lives, said after the demolition of the shanty town, nine new residential buildings will be set up here, along with a large area of plantations.

"The shanty town has hindered the afforestation efforts here," Chen said.

Community committee member Su Juan said, "Certainly, each household has different needs and the policy cannot meet the demands of all. We have to negotiate with residents on concrete issues about demolition."

Mamet can replace his bungalow with three apartments, each having kitchen, washroom and living and bed rooms. His three sons will live separately in the same community and each of them will receive property certificates after moving in.

"I'm accustomed to nine family members living together, but now we have to move into a tall building and live separately," he said. "I want to move the four mulberries, too," said Mamet, pointing to the trees he had planted outside his bungalow about a dozen years ago.

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