Three Gorges Dam migrants find new homes

2013-02-13 08:31:20 GMT2013-02-13 16:31:20(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

NANCHANG, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Although he is still homesick from time to time, 61-year-old Lei Yangqing admits that life has never been better for himself and his fellow villagers, who moved years ago to make way for the construction of the Three Gorges Dam.

In 2012, Lei's family built a two-story residence with money from government subsidies. The house is twice as big as his former home in southwest China's Chongqing municipality.

In August 2001, a total of 69 villagers, including Lei, from 15 households in the village of Zhongyang in Yunyang county were resettled in the village of Qiujin in east China's Jiangxi Province.

"Twelve of the 15 households have built new houses," said Lei, who used to be head of his village committee. "Mine is comparatively small in size."

Some families have also purchased farm vehicles or other machinery with the 10,000-plus yuan (about 1,592 U.S. dollars) that every relocated migrant received from the central government last year, Lei added.

Official statistics show that around 1.4 million people have been relocated since 1993 to make way for the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydropower project.

A new, spacious house is not all it has taken to convince these migrants to move to places hundreds of miles away from their hometowns. They have also required assurance that their living standards will be constantly improved.

Lei's family was allotted cotton fields totaling 4,667 square meters, as well as some paddies, upon arriving in Qiujin.

With the help of local villagers, Lei learned how to grow cotton in less than two years. In 2012, he harvested 2,500-plus kg of cotton and earned more than 20,000 yuan by selling it.

"Years ago in Chongqing, my family could only make ends meet by growing corn, potatoes and wheat. But now we have extra money we can save," Lei said.

Still, Lei is making much less than a number of younger villagers.

Last year, then-38-year-old Quan Zizhong spent 300,000 yuan on a 120-square-meter apartment in town. He said he buys his wife new gold jewelry every year.

"I always felt guilty about not being able to buy her a single piece of jewelry when we got married," said Quan, who has been selling pork since the second year he arrived in Qiujin.

He makes more than 10 times as much as he did farming back in Chongqing.

In addition to the Quan family, six other migrant households are also making a living by selling pork.

All 15 households have seen their annual income at least quadruple since they relocated, according to Lei.

And they have successfully blended into the local community as well.

Local villagers send them wedding and funeral invitations, and indigenous or not, people lend a helping hand to whoever in need, Lei added.

"We left one home, but luckily we found another one that is just as good and sweet," Lei said.

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