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January 17, 2012

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30,000 households to get new homes

SHANGHAI is to renovate or demolish 600,000 square meters of dilapidated housing this year, Mayor Han Zheng said yesterday.

This will benefit 25,000 to 30,000 households, and residents will be relocated to newly built apartments, Han told the Shanghai People's Congress.

However, for future projects, the city government "has a long way to go in finding finance for relocation," warned a top official with the government group leading the work.

And much work needs to be done soliciting residents' views on renovation and relocation, Ni Rong, deputy director of city's construction and traffic commission told district officials.

"The main focus of this year's work is to push on and extend projects," said Ni.

Ni said the government undertook no new renovation projects last year as the main work was to "complete houses decided in previous years."

Finding funding from financial institutions was proving more difficult since the country tightened fiscal policies to curb inflation, said Ni.

Ni added that new policies concerning compensation to residents whose homes were demolished also "slowed the pace of demolition."

Investment in this year's projects amounts to 70 billion yuan (US$11.06 billion), said Ni.

Since 1991, Shanghai has leveled 75 million square meters of dilapidated or temporary homes that housed around 1.4 million families.

Tackling cramped living conditions - including shared kitchens and toilets, and several generations living in one apartment - has been high on the government agenda for years.

At the congress, Hong Kemin, a community staff member as well as a city lawmaker, told Han how residents in a community near downtown Nanjing Road "day and night long for renovation to begin."

The elderly have difficulty taking a shower in the winter in their shabby houses, said Hong.

Han acknowledged the slower pace in renovations last year and promised to "keep up" this year.

Where a community is set to be demolished, relocation can only take place if more than 75 percent of households agree on relocation and compensation in two rounds of voting.

If plans are rejected, new versions must be produced.


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