Lonely village

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-4 18:33:01

Xu Jiamao and his wife Wu Donghua are the only people now living in Shangjin village, June 10, 2015. Photo: CFP 

When the villagers left, the village was left full of empty houses. Photo: CFP 

94-year-old villager Xia Cuiyu left the village several years ago. But occasionally, her grandson accompanies her on days trips to the village. Photo: CFP 

Without a refrigerator, the couple can't store many vegetables. Wild vegetables are their daily food. Photo: CFP 

The family plant rice in a paddy field. In the background, the Shanxi Water Reservoir can be seen. Photo: CFP

Shangjin village is located on a small island in the middle of a reservoir surrounded by mountains, 120 kilometers from Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province. 15 years ago, the village had over 340 residents, but now an elderly couple are the only people clinging to the rock.

The reservoir has benefited some but submerged the village. The Shanxi Water Reservoir was built in 2000 to provide water and power to the millions living in Wenzhou and the surrounding area. Shangjin village was sacrificed for this end. The village once had a thriving community, with schools, shops and roads. Now its roads only lead into the reservoir.

According to official policy, when the reservoir was built, villagers who lived below 144 meters above sea level were given compensation to allow them to move away. As Shangjin village is above this threshold, the villagers were left to sink or swim.

Over the years, most of the villagers have moved away to live and work in other places. Two years ago, there were around 10 people living in the village, but old age took its toll and now there are only two. Only the 75-year-old Xu Jiamao and his wife still live here.

"It is hard to live on this island, but at least I have land and can farm and raise animals. If I move out, I won't have any income," Xu said.

Every two weeks, Xu goes out by boat to shop in the market. A return trip costs him around 300 yuan ($47). The transportation costs are so high that he has to buy many things each time.

In order to make a living, he and his wife have around 20 sheep and other animals. Xu's son has migrated for work, so he can't take care of his aged parents. The couple's monthly income is around 700 yuan, half of the average of other local farmers. With this meager income, they can't afford to buy a house in nearby villages.

A government official said that the government is planning to provide a cheap rental property to help the couple move out of this lonely island village.

Global Times

Posted in: In-Depth

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