Li wants more efforts made on shantytowns

Updated: 2013-02-06 07:45

By Xu Wei (China Daily)

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Vice-Premier Li Keqiang called for greater efforts to rebuild shantytowns in cities nationwide during a visit on Sunday to Baotou, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

Local authorities should renew efforts to rebuild shantytowns and devise concrete timetables and plans to improve the living conditions of the more than 10 million households nationwide still living in large-scale shantytowns, Li said at a conference held in Beiliang, a shantytown in Baotou.

Li said rebuilding shantytowns is an obstacle that must be conquered in the urbanization process.

"We cannot build high-rises on one side and keep slums on the other side," Li said.

China has already improved the living conditions of more than 12 million households in shantytowns in recent years and the shantytowns left behind are the toughest cases, Li said.

More than 100 million people still live in slums and ramshackle houses, and residents lack easy access to tap water or drainage, he said.

Funding and land shortages are difficulties faced by local governments that want to push forward the rebuilding of shantytowns, according to officials who attended the conference.

Li said the central government will increase funding for livelihood projects, and local governments should also make coordinated efforts.

"Local authorities should control their spending and the construction of government buildings and devote the funds saved from extravagance and waste to livelihood projects like rebuilding slums," he said.

It was Li's second visit to the Beiliang community. His first was two years ago.

The shantytown, only 20 km away from the skyscrapers of downtown Baotou, covers 13 sq km and has a population of 124,000. The average income in the town is less than 500 yuan ($80) per month and the average living space is less than 15 sq m, People's Daily reported.

The alleys inside the community only barely allow two people to pass at the same time and each lavatory is shared on average by 900 people.

Li visited the house of one resident and inquired about the safety of cooking facilities and whether the roof leaks in rainy weather.

Liaoning province made progress in the rebuilding of shantytowns when Li was the province's Party chief between 2004 and 2007.

In May 2012, the central government allocated 21.2 billion yuan as a special fund for local governments to renovate shantytowns and another 6.5 billion yuan was allocated from the central budget in July to further help the scheme.

Xinhua contributed to this story.