Wed, March 09, 2011
China > Mainland

105 survivors complain about Shanghai fire compensation

2011-03-09 15:52:53 GMT2011-03-09 23:52:53(Beijing Time)  Global Times

Fire fighters carry an old man during the Jiaozhou Road fire in Shanghai in this Nov 15, 2010 file photo. (SINA file)

A total of 105 survivors of the Jiaozhou Road fire submitted an official complaint to the Jing'an district government Tuesday , voicing their discontent with the compensation offered to them over the weekend.

The government offered the survivors the option of taking a new home that will be built in a vacant lot adjacent to the burnt building on Jiaozhou Road. The homes are expected to be available after construction is complete over the next some three and a half years.

The other option is to cash in on 45,000 yuan ($6,867) per square meter of their burnt home that was destroyed from the blaze that caught during renovation work on the buliding on November 15 last year.

The letter, requesting a new apartment close to their old home now rather than later, was sent to the November 15 Relief and Rehabilitation Working Team, the body in charge of the compensation issue for the survivors. It was signed by the 100-plus survivors from the No.728 building.

One of the survivors, Wang Hong, said that like the others, he could not accept the money because the amount offered was too low given the city's high cost of housing, which is why he wants the government to do better on the other option – by providing a new home now rather than later.

"I can't wait a few years to get a new home," Wang, who lost his wife and mother to the fire, told the Global Times Tuesday . "My daughter needs a stable home environment to grow up in now more than ever."

Wang said that he and his daughter have been forced to rent an apartment in Jing'an for the past two months, using the government's monthly subsidy of 6,000 yuan ($916). The amount was based on the size of his burnt 85-square-meter apartment, for which he receives 70 yuan ($11) per square meter per month from the government's temporary rental subsidy for survivors.

His mother owned a separate 95-square-meter unit in the same building, for which he will inherit a 6,650-yuan ($1,015) monthly subsidy starting next week.

The rental subsidy, which has been provided since December last year will continue until survivors make their decision, for which no deadline has yet been set by the government. The working group in charge could not be reached for comment by the Global Times Tuesday .

The Jing'an Construction Company, responsible for the fire through a lack of adequate supervision, said that of the five new buildings it plans to build, three will accommodate families whose homes were ruined by the massive fire.

A company blueprint showed the 18-storey buildings will cover an area of 16,000 square meters and require at least three and a half years to complete.

Despite the cash compensation being offered at a price that is 50 percent higher per square meter than the burnt property's appraisal by the Shanghai Urban Real Estate Appraisal Company, which put the value of the units at 30,000 yuan ($4,578) per square meter at the time of the fire, the survivors maintained Tuesday that the amount was not enough given the current housing market.

"It's impossible to purchase a new apartment nearby at that price," Shen Guoqiang, who lost his brother to the fire, told the Global Times Tuesday . He said that he has looked at several homes in the area, which were listed above 50,000 yuan ($7,630) per square meter.

"House hunting is also a lot of hassle – and it is one more thing that I don't want to have to worry about right now," he added.

According to Zhang Xuezhong, a lawyer who specializes in civil law, from Shanghai Ding, Sun and Huang Law Firm, the survivors' request is unreasonable.

"In previous similar cases, fire survivors were offered cash in compensation," he told the Global Times Tuesday . "If the issue were brought to court, it would be hard for a court to demand that the survivors receive a new home right away."

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