Post-Earthquake Reconstruction: Towards a Much More Participatory Planning

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The western part of China is located on the active Indian-Himalayan seismic gaps. According to a statistic released, more than 550 thousand people have been killed because of earthquakes since 1900, which makes up 53% of the people who died in earthquakes around the world. Since 1949, more than 100 destructive earthquakes have hit 22 provinces of China, which caused 27 thousand people died. The total earthquake affected area has reached 30 thousand [km.sup.2] and approximate 700 thousand houses collapsed (the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People's Republic of China, 2008). This demonstrates that earthquake is one of the serious natural disasters in China. Figure 1 outlines the recent major earthquakes in China.

Occurred at 14:28 (local time, 6:28 AM GMT) on 12 May 2008, with the epicentre in Wenchuan, a county about 92 km from Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan province, Sichuan province was struck by an earthquake measured at 8.0 on the Richter scale. As released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People's Republic of China, up to 13 July 2008, 69,197 people have been confirmed dead, 374,176 injured and 18,289 lost.

Just 4 days later, on 16 May 2008, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the People's Republic of China (MOHURD) urged volunteer planners to support and devise reconstruction plans for earthquake affected areas such as Wenchuan County, Qingchuan County, Beichuan County, Dujiangyan City, Pengzhou City, Chongzhou City, Shifang City, Aba City and so on. With this announcement, major urban planning and design institutes and universities in China have been proactively participating in this grand reconstruction planning work. Within 2 months, planners have investigated the earthquake struck areas and checked the desirable sites for temporary shelters and tents and permanent residential areas and devised 3 years short term reconstruction plan (2008-2010) and 10 years long term development plan (2011-2020). On 8 June 2008, the State Council approved Regulations on Post-Wenchuan Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction which is the first regulation formulated for post-earthquake rehabilitation and reconstruction in China. (Xinhua News Agency, 2008) These regulations ensure post-earthquake reconstruction work in a legislated way. The other main guidance The Work Scheme for Post-Wenchuan Earthquake Reconstruction Planning was also approved by the State Council on 13 June 2008. These two documents become the main plans formulation basis. The reconstruction planning was claimed to fully consider the diverse concern of ordinary people and undertake a participatory approach.

2. An Intensively Comprehensive Planning Mission

The Great Wenchuan Earthquake was such a destructive one, as it severely struck 3 provinces including Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu. Taking Sichuan as an example, up to 12 June 2008, an area of 28 thousand [km.sup.2] has been affected, 129.5 thousand ha farmland, 114.5 ha construction land and 101 thousand ha forests have been destroyed (Post-earthquake Land Use Plan of Sichuan Province (2008-2010), Draft Version, 2008) The figures released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People's Republic of China on 13 July 2008, showed that 69,197 people have been confirmed dead, 374,167 injured and 18,289 lost in the earthquake. On 14 July 2008, the Headquarters of Post-earthquake Resilience and Reconstruction of the State Council identified 51 counties (cities or districts) as the reconstruction planning area. Actually, the reconstruction planning work is much more than that. According to the Report of Post-Wenchuan Earthquake Reconstruction Land Use Planning of Sichuan Province, composed by the Department of Land Resource of Sichuan Province, there are 50 counties damaged severely among the 140 counties which were affected by the earthquake. According to Zhiqiang Wu, the Dean of College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University, Shanghai, also the chief planner of the Expo sites of Shanghai Expo 2010, the reconstruction team led would carry out "one day survey, the second day drawing and the third day construction" way. …