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December 17, 2009

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Gorges migrants returning home

SOME of the farmers who moved to make way for the Three Gorges Dam have returned to their hometowns or nearby and are struggling to make a living as they didn't like their new homes, China Newsweek reported yesterday.

Nearly 200,000 people from Hubei Province and Chongqing Municipality moved last year to make way for the project on the Yangtze River which submerged 20 districts or counties.

Most of migrants were organized by the government although some made their own plans, the report said.

Many of the new settlers found a better life with their new homes and the preferential policies offered by local governments, but some migrants were disappointed.

Some of the 7,000 farmers who moved to Guangdong Province said their new houses were substandard and the farmland was wasteland.

Most of the farmers who moved from Chongqing's Wushan County to Liangjing Town of Guangdong's Huizhou City returned.

The 69 Wushan farmers were allocated about 4 hectares of farmland in total but they said it was barren and was hard to lease because it was close to power lines.

Only six of the 69 farmers reportedly stayed in Liangjing. "We couldn't find our lives here," said Wang Shirui, one of 69 farmers who have returned. He Guizhen moved from Chongqing to a village in Jingzhou City of Hubei Province in 2003. He told the magazine that he found no house or farmland promised by the government.

He lost one hand in an accident when he was seven while his wife Huang Shimei is blind in one eye.

He said had no choice but to return to Chongqing.

They now share a shabby flat with others, overlooking his submerged old home.

Some others chose to leave because of different customs, accents and other intangible obstacles between them and local communities.

Elder migrants felt lonely as they couldn't visit their old neighbors or friends, while some youngsters were ostracized in their new schools.

The report didn't specify the number of farmers moving back after the relocation.

However, none of those that relocated to Shanghai has moved back, the report said.


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