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Giving villages a clean, green makeover

Similar projects throughout the district will restore 82 villages to their original looks. — Cui Songge

Similar projects throughout the district will restore 82 villages to their original looks. — Cui Songge

OLD, often rundown villages in the Minhang District are lined up for makeovers.

By the end of this month, 82 villages are due to have completed their rehabilitation plans. Construction work will start in June and should be completed by the end of next year.

The village upgrades will mean “smooth roadways, clean water, tidy houses and luxuriant greenery,” according to district guidelines. Garbage will be removed, illegal structures razed, weedy lots cleaned up and tourism opportunities encouraged.

Wangnibang Village in Huacao Town is one of the 82. As a pilot site, it started restoration work a year ago to set a model for other villages.

“We moved out polluting old factories, tore down illegal structures and relocated squatters,” said Zhu Longxing, an official with the village committee. “We will use part of the freed-up land to create an ecological garden and recreational facilities for residents.”

The East China Architectural Design and Research Institute is planning a modern orchid there, around which tourism can be developed.

Neighboring Zhaojia Village has also already started its own facelift. The village, which sits beside Suzhou Creek, had rich natural resources, including a forest area of 164 acres. However, unlicensed workshops and factories created severe pollution problems.

Greenery areas, waterfront platforms and enhanced use of farmland will turn the village back to its original look.

“As a mark of the changes, rents have shot up,” said a local villager. “When this environment was shabby and polluted, you could rent an apartment for only around 200 yuan (US$28) a month. Now that has doubled.”

The makeover program is also expected to uncover old Minhang cultural landmarks that have been obliterated by illegal construction.

Jin’s Ancestral Hall in Tongxin Village, Maqiao Town, is among those cultural icons. It is one of only three completely preserved ancestral halls in Shanghai, but it fell into serious disrepair over the past few decades. Garbage was piled at its gateway, and roads in the vicinity were narrowed by illegal construction on both sides.

The village said the hall will become a lecture hall after restoration. Roads will be repaved, and a brand new archway will be built at the front gate.

“I saw how the village was being polluted, year by year,” said Li Shunlin, a lifetime resident of the village. “I can’t tell you the joy I feel that it is finally being cleaned up and restored to how it once looked.”

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