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SDEV concludes visit to Sichuan (with photos)  

The Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, concluded his two-day visit to Sichuan today (March 5). During the visit, Mr Chan inspected several reconstruction projects funded by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in the aftermath of the "5.12 Wenchuan Earthquake" as well as emergency relief equipment procured for the "4.20 Lushan Earthquake" relief work with the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) grant donated by the HKSAR Government. He expressed his satisfaction with the achievements of the reconstruction and relief support work and looked forward to further collaboration and exchange between the two places.

On March 4, the delegation comprising government officials and members of the DRF Advisory Committee met with officials of the Sichuan Provincial People's Government and the Ya'an Municipal People's Government for a briefing on the progress of the emergency relief work and the latest position of the $100 million DRF grant. The delegation visited local disaster and emergency management authorities, namely the Department of Transport, the Fire Brigade, the Sanitation Department and the Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and inspected some of the emergency relief equipment procured with the DRF grant.

The delegation also visited the Ya'an Chinese Medicine Hospital, a reconstruction project funded by the HKSAR. Mr Chan noted that the reconstruction projects funded by the HKSAR withstood the Lushan Earthquake and played a very important role in the emergency relief and rescue work. The Chinese Medicine Hospital not only sustained no damage during the earthquake, but was also able to continue its operation and provided rescue and emergency relief services after the earthquake. The HKSAR-funded reconstructed schools also served as important rescue and command centers, emergency supplies stations and temporary re-settlement areas.

Today, Mr Chan inspected the construction site on the section of Provincial Road 303(PR303) from Yingxiu to Wolong. PR303 serves as the gateway and lifeline access to the Wolong Nature Reserve as well as a major road to Northwestern Sichuan and Tibet. It was severely damaged during the Wenchuan Earthquake. The HKSAR committed RMB 766 million to fund the reconstruction of the section from Yingxiu to Wolong, which is about 45 kilometres long. During construction, the road work was severely destroyed by torrential rainstorms and massive debris flows. As a result, cross-departmental experts of the province developed a design proposal for enhancing the road's capacity to withstand earthquakes and other disasters. The Sichuan government expects the project to be completed by 2016/2017 if the works proceeds smoothly. Mr Chan also received a briefing from the Sichuan Provincial Transport Department on the project. He commended the project team for their tenacity and dedication in completing this world-class engineering project, which was repeatedly challenged by natural disasters.

There are 23 reconstruction projects in the Wolong Nature Reserve supported by the HKSAR Government with total funding of about RMB 1,386 million. The projects are divided into two categories. The first category involves 11 projects with the aim of restoring the natural habitat of the reserve and conservation and research facilities for giant pandas. The second category involves 12 projects designed to improve people's livelihoods, including power supply installations, a drainage system, a refuse disposal system, geological hazard control, restoration of roads, schools, a medical and healthcare centre and a social welfare centre.

Mr Chan said, "The Wolong reconstruction projects have been affected by the frequent blockage of PR303. This, coupled with the suspension of construction work in winter due to severe weather conditions has seriously hampered reconstruction. Despite all these difficulties, the reconstruction work has begun to bear fruit. Eighteen projects have been completed so far and the remaining five projects are scheduled for completion this year."

Mr Chan also visited the construction site at the China Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Pandas in Gengda Village to inspect the progress of the works. With a construction cost of about RMB 201 million, the Centre comprises two zones - one for captive breeding and environmental education, and the other for wilderness training for giant pandas. The zone for captive breeding and environmental education covers an area of about 20,000 square metres including pans for rearing and breeding, a nursery ground, a veterinary hospital, an administration and research complex, a science education centre and a visitor centre. The Centre aspires to be a world-class base for ecological conservation and scientific research and education, allowing local and overseas researchers to conduct research on the conservation of giant pandas. The project is expected to be completed this year.  

Mr Chan then visited the Gengda School campus and met with the teachers and students. The school includes teaching blocks for the secondary and primary streams, dormitories, a canteen, playgrounds and administration facilities. The project cost about RMB 46 million and was put into operation in 2012.

In Dujiangyan, Mr Chan visited the Giant Panda Conservation and Disease Control Centre, which was completed at the end of last year at a cost of about RMB 129 million. The Centre is the first giant panda base specifically built for rehabilitation and care of ill or injured giant pandas. It also serves as a base for scientific research on disease prevention and control of the pandas, thus playing a pivotal role in the conservation and expansion of the husbandry of the pandas. The facilities include a disease prevention and control research centre, a scientific research and education centre, a veterinary hospital, panda enclosures, an administration building and various ancillary facilities.   

In concluding the visit, Mr Chan said that the HKSAR's post-quake reconstruction support work for the "5.12 Wenchuan Earthquake" and the disaster relief support work for the "4.20 Lushan Earthquake" have not only assisted in rebuilding the lives of the victims and giving a facelift to the quake-stricken areas, but also forged friendship and a cordial partnership between the two places.

Accompanying Mr Chan on the visit to Sichuan were the Director of Administration, Ms Kitty Choi, and DRF Advisory Committee members Ms Starry Lee, Mr Cheung Kwok-che, Dr Alice Yuk and Mr Leo Kung, and the Deputy Team Leader (Sichuan Reconstruction) of the Development Bureau, Mr David Tong.

Ends/Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:18