China Focus: Grass-roots officials pivotal in reviving post-quake Yushu

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XINING, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- A Communist Party of China (CPC) flag dug out of quake ruins has guided a village Party committee in northwest China through days and nights of rebuilding toils over the past three years.

And, with conditions getting back to normal in the village of Trangu, officials have remained busy even in the midst of the Spring Festival holiday, working on ambitious plans for the future.

In April 2010, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province, leaving 2,698 dead and over 12,000 injured.

The then 228-household village of Trangu, adjoining the epicenter, was the most severely damaged in the quake, with all its houses toppled, 65 of its residents killed and 127 injured.

Soon after the earthquake occurred, the village CPC branch unearthed from the former site of its office a bright-red-yet-dusty Party flag.

"Looking at the flag, we realized it was not time to grieve yet," the village's Party chief Drakga recalls. "We, as Party members, had far more urgent business to attend to."

A total of 24 surviving CPC members across the village immediately got moving.

They formed a rescue and relief team, mobilizing the village's militia, women's organization and members of the Communist Youth League of China to save lives and property, distribute aid supplies and register quake victims.

"Twenty days after the disaster, Trangu's reconstruction started," Drakga says.

Villagers in Trangu were among the first in Yushu to move into new residences.

With effective coordination from the village committee, Trangu has now successfully completed post-quake relocation programs and resulting compensations, said committee head Kunchok Phutso.

In the process of reconstruction, the village committee has also explored different ways to improve villagers' living standards.

It received 7 million yuan (about 1.12 million U.S. dollars) from the China Association of Poverty Alleviation and Development, a sum with which it purchased a shipment of machines and set up a sand-processing factory, according to Kunchok Phutso.

By providing building materials for post-construction projects, the factory made a profit of 4.5 million yuan in 2011.

"It was a great leap forward from the less than 10,000 yuan that the village's collective economic units, or a couple of grocery stores, made annually," according to Kunchok Phutso.

All villagers took a bite out of the factory's profit, he added. "Everyone received more than 2,000 yuan and every household had their walls thickened by the village committee."

The best is yet to come. The committee is now planning a resort area to make the most of the village's scenic spots and historic sites. It will also equip herding families with livestock pens. "All for an increase in villagers' income," Kunchok Phutso says.

Now a five-starred red flag, or China's national flag, is flown from every house across the village.

From post-quake rescue and relief through reconstruction, Yushu has witnessed full participation of grass-roots Party organizations, explains Sokyiyon, deputy director of the organization department of the CPC prefecture committee of Yushu. "Their role is pivotal."

By the end of 2012, 1,224 reconstruction projects had been launched in Yushu Prefecture with an investment of about 38 billion yuan, says Kuang Yong, head of the provincial housing and construction bureau.

Reconstruction work will be completed this year, he adds.

In the Township of Gyegu, Ma Fuliang, chief of a CPC community committee, has been rushed off his feet over this current holiday season. He is busy preparing for projects scheduled to start in the coming spring.

"For three years, I have worked day in and day out," says Ma, who has served as Party chief for four community committees since the disastrous earthquake took place.

The focus of these grass-roots committees has varied in different post-quake stages, he notes.

During stage one, they saved lives and distributed relief supplies; during stage two, they helped to clear up the debris and expropriate land for rehousing projects; stage three saw them coordinate projects, supervise construction quality and allocate residences.

"We feel wronged from time to time. But after all this time, we have a clear conscience for having worked really hard to assure local people that they are cared for," Ma says.

As Yushu reconstruction is coming to an end, these committees are ready to move on to their next stage and brave some new challenges, Sokyiyon vows.