Archive for ‘Chindia Alert’


India Still Has Work to Do on Rule of Law, Report says – India Real Time – WSJ

India is making progress on the openness of its government but it needs to improve security and reduce political violence, a new report on the rule of law says.

The latest “Rule of Law Index,” released Thursday by World Justice Project, a Washington-based nonprofit, ranks India 66th among 113 countries.

The report, based on a survey of 1,000 people and local experts, looked into Indians’ dealings with their government, the police, courts and other state institutions in their day-to-day lives.

Compared with the same countries included in the study last year, India’s rank improved three places in 2016. However, once 11 more countries were added for this year’s survey, India slipped seven places to 66th. The 2016 survey compared 113 countries over six subject areas, including “constraints on government power,” “order and security” and “fundamental rights,” among others.India’s average score for “open government” improved from 0.53 in 2014 to 0.66 in 2016. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made communication with citizens a priority, launching the engagement portal in 2014, which allows citizens to make suggestions on key government programs.

India also scored better than last year in “constraints on government powers”–measuring the effectiveness of institutional checks on government power by the legislature, judiciary, and independent auditing and review agencies.

But the South Asian nation’s score declined for “order and security,” where it ranked in the “bottom tercile” with Uganda, Kenya, Afghanistan and Pakistan for “conventional crime, political violence, and violence as a means to redress personal grievances.

”India also did poorly compared with last year in safeguarding fundamental rights, including “effective enforcement of the right to life, rights of the accused and fundamental labor rights,” among others, said the report.

In South Asia, Nepal came 63rd, three places ahead of India. Pakistan was ranked 106th in the bottom eight of the global rankings. The country was judged to have the worst access to civil justice and to be the least orderly and secure out of the 66 countries ranked in the index in 2011.

The rule of law is important to the progress of countries, said Alejandro Ponce, chief research officer of The World Justice Project.“In broad terms, a lack of rule of law discourages investment and economic growth,” said Mr. Ponce.

Source: India Still Has Work to Do on Rule of Law, Report says – India Real Time – WSJ

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China launches longest manned space mission | Reuters

China launched its longest manned space mission on Monday, sending two astronauts into orbit to spend a month aboard a space laboratory that is part of a broader plan to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022.

The Shenzhou 11 blasted off on a Long March rocket at 7:30 am (2330 GMT) from the remote launch site in Jiuquan, in the Gobi desert, in images carried live on state television.

The astronauts will dock with the Tiangong 2 space laboratory, or “Heavenly Palace 2”, which was sent into space last month. It will be the longest stay in space by Chinese astronauts, state media reported.

Early on Monday, Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, met astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong and wished them well, state news agency Xinhua reported.

“You are going to travel in space to pursue the space dream of the Chinese nation,” Fan said.”With all the scientific and rigorous training, discreet preparation, and rich experience accumulated from previous missions, you will accomplish the glorious and tough task… We wish you success and look forward to your triumphant return.”

Shenzhou 11 is the third space voyage for Jing, who will command the mission and celebrate his 50th birthday in orbit.

In a manned space mission in 2013, three Chinese astronauts spent 15 days in orbit and docked with a space laboratory, the Tiangong 1.Advancing China’s space program is a priority for Beijing, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power.

China insists its space program is for peaceful purposes.

Shenzhou 11, whose name translates as “Divine Vessel”, will also carry three experiments designed by Hong Kong middle school students and selected in a science competition, including one that will take silk worms into space.

The U.S. Defense Department has highlighted China’s increasing space capabilities, saying it was pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations using space-based assets in a crisis.

China has been working to develop its space program for military, commercial and scientific purposes, but is still playing catch-up to established space powers the United States and Russia.

China’s Jade Rabbit moon rover landed on the moon in late 2013 to great national fanfare, but soon suffered severe technical difficulties.

The rover and the Chang’e 3 probe that carried it there were the first “soft landing” on the moon since 1976. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had accomplished the feat earlier.

China will launch a “core module” for its first space station some time around 2018, a senior official said in April, part of a plan for a permanent manned space station in service around 2022.

Source: China launches longest manned space mission | Reuters


Stopping bridge collapses | The Economist

ON AUGUST 2nd a century-old bridge carrying the road from Mumbai to Goa over the Savitri river collapsed (see picture), killing at least 20 people.

The probable cause was that the river, swollen by monsoon rains, had scoured away the foundations of the bridge’s piers. Such erosion-induced collapses are not peculiar to India. In 2009 the Malahide viaduct, north of Dublin, failed similarly just after a train had crossed it. This was despite its having been inspected and pronounced safe a few days earlier. In America, meanwhile, foundation-scouring is reckoned to be the leading reason for bridge failure. Half of the 500 collapses that happened there between 1989 and 2000 were caused by it.

If detected early enough, foundation-scouring is easy to fix. Dumping rubble, known as riprap, into the water around a bridge’s piers stabilises the riverbed they are sunk into. But until now such detection has involved the deployment of teams of divers, which is expensive. Hence a search for technology which can substitute for the men and women in the wetsuits.

Stopping bridge collapses

Ken Loh of the University of California, San Diego, thinks he has an answer. He has created flexible rods that, when inserted into a riverbed, monitor erosion quite simply. The exposed portion of a rod undulates in the water. Piezoelectric polymers in the rod convert this motion into electricity, with the frequency of the undulation (and therefore of the electric current) indicating the length of the rod’s exposed part. As the bed erodes, this portion gets longer and the frequency drops. That tells the riprap tippers when to get busy.

Genda Chen of Missouri University of Science and Technology has a more unusual proposal: to throw magnetic “rocks” (artificial boulders with magnets embedded inside them) into the river. These rocks roll around in the riverbed until they settle in dips in the sediment, which are generally places where erosion is at its greatest. Sensors fitted to a bridge’s piers then estimate the amount of scouring, and where it is, from the strength and direction of the magnetic field they detect.Some researchers, like Luke Prendergast of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, think installing sensors below the waterline like this is too expensive—and is also unreliable. He worries that heavy storms will wash them away when they are needed most. He has focused instead on monitoring the part of the bridge above the water, using accelerometers of the sort found in most smartphones. All bridges vibrate, as traffic bumps over them or winds rattle their decks. If their foundations begin to erode, the pattern of these vibrations will change, much as the pitch of a tuning fork varies with its length. Accelerometers, Dr Prendergast suggests, could monitor such changes and forewarn of problems.

Accelerometers are not the only way to measure vibrations, though. David Mascareñas of Los Alamos National Laboratory videos them. He then uses a computer algorithm to analyse the resulting footage and determine a structure’s properties, even if the vibrations recorded have an amplitude of less than a millimetre.

Whether methods that study vibrations in these ways can detect problems early enough to prevent collapses remains to be seen. Branko Glisic of Princeton University, by contrast, thinks the best approach is to detect threatening cracks directly. He has created special sensor sheets, designed to be pasted onto the sides of a bridge. Wires within a sheet elongate if a crack opens underneath them. That changes their resistance. The arrangement of the wires means such changes in resistance give away precisely where the crack is.

If methods such as these can be made to work in practice, then it will, more often, be possible to send the rip rappers in at the appropriate moment to save a bridge that is otherwise sound. And, for those bridges that are not, timely warning will be provided that a crossing needs to be closed before someone is killed traversing it.

Source: Stopping bridge collapses | The Economist


India and Russia to sign air defence deal – BBC News

Russia and India are expected to sign a deal on Saturday for the delivery of an advanced air defence system to Delhi, a Kremlin official has said.

The S-400 missiles are Moscow’s most sophisticated aircraft defence system.Yuri Ushakov said the agreement would be signed at a summit in Goa where President Vladimir Putin will hold talks with Indian PM Narendra Modi.

India is also hosting a Brics summit in Goa this weekend involving Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“An agreement on the delivery of S-400 ‘Triumph’ anti-missile defence systems and other deals will be signed as a result of the talks,” Russian news agencies quoted Mr Ushakov as saying.

Russia’s missiles send robust signal

The Kremlin earlier this week said the talks with Mr Modi would focus on “a wide range of matters of bilateral relations, especially trade and economic ties”.

The S-400 surface-to-air missiles have been deployed to Syria, where Russian forces have been operating in support of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.Russia and India were close allies during the Cold War, but recently the relationship has become more complex.Talks have been held annually since 2000 and hosted alternately by Moscow and Delhi.

Source: India and Russia to sign air defence deal – BBC News


Infosys cuts annual revenue target for 2nd time as U.S. election, Brexit weigh | Reuters

India’s second-largest software services exporter Infosys Ltd cut its fiscal-year revenue growth target for the second time in three months on an uncertain business outlook, sending its shares tumbling more than 5 percent.

Reporting a 6.1 percent rise in second-quarter net profit, Infosys said on Friday it now expected revenue to grow between 8 percent and 9 percent in constant currency terms in the fiscal year to March 31, 2017. Its previous revenue growth target, issued in July, was 10.5-12 percent, already lowered from the up to 13.5 percent it said it expected in April.India’s more-than-$150 billion software services sector depends on North America and Europe for the majority of its revenue. The impending U.S. presidential election and the implications of Britain’s ‘Brexit‘ move to exit the European Union have both weighed on spending by western clients.

Infosys had warned in August it was seeing some “softness” in business after the June Brexit vote in Britain.

Chief Executive Vishal Sikka said in a statement on Friday the revision took into consideration “our performance in first half of the year and the near-term uncertain business outlook”.

After falling as much as 5.3 percent after the guidance cut was announced, Infosys shares were trading 2.6 percent down at 0453 GMT in a Mumbai market that was little changed.

For its fiscal second quarter to Sept. 30, its consolidated net profit rose 6.1 percent from a year earlier to 36.06 billion rupees ($541.51 million), ahead of analysts’ estimates of 35.26 billion rupees. Revenue rose 10.7 percent to 173.1 billion rupees.The company said on Friday it added 78 clients during the three months to September, taking its total number of active clients to 1,136.

($1 = 66.5919 Indian rupees)

Source: Infosys cuts annual revenue target for 2nd time as U.S. election, Brexit weigh | Reuters


Is this the world’s most oversubscribed school? – BBC News

The VidyaGyan Leadership Academy, a boarding school in India‘s Uttar Pradesh state, is offering an elite education for pupils drawn from the rural poor.

There are about 200 places on offer each year – but such is the appetite for families to get a better life for their children, there are 250,000 applications.

The school, set up by the Shiv Nadar Foundation, is completely free, and offers the type of education usually available only to the very wealthy.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra, a businesswoman and trustee of the foundation, says the school has been modelled on India’s private schools, which put students on the pathway to top universities and high-flying careers.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra wants the school to produce a more meritocratic generation of leaders for India

But the VidyaGyan school is open only to the very clever and very poor – which she describes as the “top of the bottom of the pyramid”.

No-one can even apply u

Unless their family income is below the equivalent of £1,500 per year, and the school carries out checks to make sure that better-off families are not trying to get in.

“Most of India is rural, there is a huge population in India not being tapped for their excellence. They have no access to great universities,” says Ms Malhotra, who is chief executive officer of the HCL technology company.

A performer from Uttar Pradesh prepares to take part in a festival

“We wanted to see if we could have an admissions system that was truly meritorious.”

The admissions system operates on an epic scale.

After the initial 250,000 applications, Ms Malhotra says, about 125,000 turn up to take a written test.

The drop-out rate is a reflection of the tough lives of these families, who might struggle to travel to a local test centre or be stopped by bad weather.

The school’s ambition is for its students to compete anywhere in the world

Based on the results, there is a shortlist of about 6,000 students, who then take another set of tests. There are also visits to the homes of applicants.

This sifting process produces an intake of 200 pupils, boys and girls, who are taught, clothed, fed and housed by the school.

These children from the poorest rural families, a deliberate mix of religions and castes, then receive a high-cost education, exposing them to ideas and opportunities.

It is an intensive process, designed to create a “stepping stone” to top universities in India or abroad.

The school has been founded to help clever poor pupils from Uttar Pradesh

It has become such a phenomenon that there are now coaching academies dedicated to training people for the test.

So far the school has cost the foundation £59m – and Ms Malhotra says there have been questions about whether the money would have been better spent on teaching basic literacy to much bigger numbers of young people.The final intake of 200 pupils stands compared with Uttar Pradesh’s population of about 200 million.

But Ms Malhotra says the distinct purpose of the school is to create a leadership academy focusing on providing a chance for disadvantaged youngsters to compete with India’s elite.

These are the children of poor, uneducated farmers, and she wants them to be equipped to reach the top in politics, business or sport.

The school is intended to provide a stepping stone to top universities

And she says there is a “ripple effect” on the home villages of these pupils, as they see their young people being able to go to a top university in India or in Europe or the United States.

“When students get into a great university, it’s a huge aspirational lift for their village. These students become beacons of hope.”

There are also expectations of paying back to their local communities. In the summer, when they go home, they have to carry out a socially useful project, such as providing cleaner water, clearing away rubbish or finding a safer way of cooking.

“It’s about getting their hands dirty and finding out how to solve problems,” says Ms Malhotra.

Once pupils are accepted, everything in the school is free for families

The school’s first graduates have left with “stellar results”, but she also wants them to be equipped to compete with international students anywhere.

“It’s not just about getting in, they need to be able to survive. All of a sudden you’re thrown in with other highly competitive students from all over the world.”

It will be some time before it is possible to see if they become India’s future leaders, she says. “But they’re on their way.”

Source: Is this the world’s most oversubscribed school? – BBC News


China tops US in numbers of billionaires – BBC News

Property magnate Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda tops the list of 594 billionaires in the country, ahead of 535 billionaires in the US.

Alibaba‘s Jack Ma was second, with his wealth having risen 41% from last year.

The annual list is compiled by Shanghai publishers Hurun and often compared to the Forbes list in the US.The Hurun Report’s rich list is one of the most closely-watched and accurate assessments of wealth in China. The annual report has been published for the past 18 years.

Earlier this year, the publisher released a separate, global list, showing that the number of billionaires in China outnumbered those in the US for the first time.

However, none of China’s super-rich make it into the global top 20.

Global reach

At the top of the China rich list is Wang Jianlin, who sits on a personal fortune of $32.1bn (£26.4bn).

His company Dalian Wanda has made headlines throughout the year with a number of high profile forays into the US movie markets. It has taken over Legendary Pictures, as well as stepping into US and UK cinema chains and striking an alliance with Sony Pictures.

Alibaba’s Jack Ma is a close second with $30.6bn, and Pony Ma of internet and online gaming giant Tencent comes third with $24.6bn.

Image copyright REUTERS

The biggest increase came from Yao Zhengua of investment and real estate firm Baoneng Group, whose wealth jumped by 820% to $17.2bn, putting him in fourth position.

Hurun chairman Rupert Hoogewerf said Mr Yao’s rise illustrated a shift in China’s maturing economy.

“Yao’s financial investment model represents the new wave of wealth creation in China,” he explained. “The first money made in China 20 years ago came from trading, followed by manufacturing, real estate, IT, and today it is about using the capital markets for financial investments.

“Robin Li and Melissa Ma of search engine Baidu have a fortune of $14.7bn, ranked eighth while founder of smartphone makers Xiaomi, Lei Jun, dropped out of the top 10 to number 14 as competition in China’s smartphone market intensified.

Most of China’s billionaires live in Beijing, followed by Shenzhen, Shanghai and Hangzhou.

Globally, the Forbes rich list is topped by Microsoft founder Bill Gates with $75bn, followed by Amancio Ortega of Zara and legendary investor Warren Buffett.

Source: China tops US in numbers of billionaires – BBC News


What’s a slum? In India, Dharavi’s thriving informal economy defies the label | Reuters

Malik Abdullah’s plastic recycling business in Dharavi, the sprawling slum in Mumbai that is among the largest in Asia, has survived fire, building collapses, and the criminal underworld for decades. Now, it is threatened by development.

For 35 years, Abdullah has carried on the business built by his father, pulverising used plastic cans and bottles into pellets, then selling them to factories to refashion.

Thousands of small businesses like his thrive in Dharavi, creating an informal economy with an annual turnover of $1 billion by some estimates.

Now, plans to replace the ramshackle workshops and decrepit homes with office blocks and high-rise apartments threaten the businesses that employ thousands of its 1 million residents.

“The city doesn’t care about the businesses here, which are our livelihood,” said Abdullah, 52, standing in an alley crammed with towering stacks of plastic containers.

“This is where we live, this is where we work. Where will we go if they only build flats and offices?” he said.

During the past two decades, there have been several attempts to develop Dharavi, which sprawls over 240 hectares (590 acres). However, residents have opposed many of them, saying they do not consider their interests.

Real estate in Mumbai, India‘s financial hub, is among the most expensive in the world. The contrast between rich and poor is stark, and about 60 percent of the city’s population of more than 18 million lives in slums.

Dharavi has always been a magnet for migrants from across India. Many have lived there for decades, their one-room tenements and low-rise homes dwarfed by the gleaming glass and chrome office towers and luxury hotels that dot the city.

Amid Dharavi’s narrow alleys, open drains and canopies of electric cables, migrants who came in search of better economic opportunities have created a community of schools, temples, mosques, restaurants, tailors and mobile phone shops.

Tens of thousands work as potters, leather tanners, weavers, soap makers, and in Dharavi’s massive recycling industry.

Most homes double up as work spaces, the whirr of sewing machines, the clang of metal and the pungent odour of spices mingling with the call for prayer and the putrid smell of trash.

“People think of slums as places of static despair as depicted in films such as ‘Slumdog Millionaire‘,” said Sanjeev Sanyal, an economist and writer, referring to the Academy Award-winning movie that exposed the gritty underbelly of Dharavi.

“If one looks past the open drains and plastic sheets, one will see that slums are ecosystems buzzing with activity… Creating neat low-income housing estates will not work unless they allow for many of the messy economic and social activities that thrive in slums,” he said.


Once a small fishing village, Dharavi was notorious as a den of crime in the 1970s and ’80s. Following a massive crackdown, violent crime is rare and Dharavi has featured in movies, art projects and a Harvard Business School case study.

Fed by two suburban railway lines and perilously close to the Mumbai airport, Dharavi has lured developers, too.

Recent plans by city officials envisaged private developers clearing the area and building high-rise flats in which each eligible family gets a free 225 sq ft (21 sq metres) unit. The developer in turn gets rights to build commercial space to rent.

Dozens of such housing blocks have been built over the years, falling into disrepair as facilities were not upgraded.

What these buildings also lack is room for work. The squat tenements are perfectly suited for businesses, with living and sleeping spaces sitting atop work spaces, workers spilling into the alleys, and material stacked outside and on roof tops.

In Kumbharwada, the potter’s colony, where migrants from neighbouring Gujarat state make earthen water pots and lamps, potters’ wheels can be seen through open doorways, while ready pots are stacked in the alleys awaiting pickup.

The colony is abuzz ahead of the Dussehra and Diwali festivals, when decorated pots and lamps are in demand.

With small televisions turned on low, women sit cross-legged on the floor in their homes, painting motifs in red, yellow and green, and gluing on sequins and shiny bits of mica.

Down another alley, a group of women chat and braid leather strips for belts and bags on the stoop of a home.

“We want new flats, but they are small,” said Sharada Tape, who earns about 100 rupees ($1.50) a day.

“There are no spaces like this where we can all sit and work. It will be difficult, but we need the money,” she said.


City officials last month submitted a new 250 billion rupee ($3.7 billion) redevelopment plan to Maharashtra state for approval after previous plans failed to attract bidders.

The new plan, a public-private partnership, has ample commercial space for businesses, but only for the “formal, legitimate” ones, said Debashish Chakrabarty, head of the Dharavi Redevelopment Authority.

“All the licensed businesses will have space under the plan. It will be better, cleaner than what they have now,” he said.

It is this narrow definition of what’s legal and permissible that is the biggest challenge, not just to recognising Dharavi’s businesses, but also determining Dharavi’s fate, said Rahul Srivastava, a founder of the Institute of Urbanology in Mumbai.

“The biggest impediment to the improvement of many of these settlements is the misconception that they are illegitimate, because residents don’t own the land they occupy,” he said.

“Can settlements which are home to fifth-generation migrants be called ‘informal’? We need to transform our perception of these neighbourhoods,” he said.

Across the country, plans to build modern Smart Cities will force tens of thousands of people from their slum homes as planners spruce up central business districts and build metro train lines, activists say.

Campaigners say until authorities give Dharavi residents more power and recognise the vital role of their businesses, any redevelopment plan is destined to fail.

“If we don’t have these small enterprises, it wouldn’t be Dharavi,” said Jockin Arputham, president of the National Slum Dwellers’ Federation in Mumbai.

“This is a people-sponsored economic zone, and the redevelopment should be around the economic zone. It is a township, not a slum, and it should be treated as one,” he said.

Abdullah, the plastic recycler, is reconciled to his fate.

“We want development. We also want to keep our businesses,” he said.

“But we have to be prepared for any eventuality. We are not owners of the land, so we may have to shut down,” he said.

($1 = 66.5075 Indian rupees)

Source: What’s a slum? In India, Dharavi’s thriving informal economy defies the label | Reuters


Diaspora Dollars Dwindle: Indian Remittance Growth Slips to 12-Year Low – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s global army of expatriates–which does everything from writing software in Silicon Valley to building skyscrapers in in Qatar–is the world’s most generous when it comes to number of dollars sent home, but this year they have become a bit stingy.

Recently released World Bank estimates predict the Desi diaspora will send home $65.45 billion this year. While that is just above remittances into China ($65.17 billion) and tens of billions beyond any other country, it is a 5% decline from last year.

The last time India saw a bigger slide in remittances was back in 2004 when remittances fell 11%.

Globally, remittances are expected to edge up about 1% this year, the World Bank predicted, so why is India underperforming?

The main problem is that many of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries have been struggling with the decline in oil prices. That has meant they are hiring fewer Indians, providing fewer perks to their international employees and in some countries even restricting the number of foreigners that can be hired.

“This year the South Asia region would see a decline of 2.3% in remittances to the region due mainly to the impact of declining oil prices and labor market nationalization policies on remittances from GCC countries,” the report said. “Moving forward remittance growth in the region is expected to remain subdued.”

Some parts of the southern state of Kerala and other regions in India that depend on remittances are already starting to feel the pain from the decline in oil riches.

The World Bank expects remittance growth to return, expanding 2.2% in South Asia next year and 2.3% the year after that. Globally remittance growth will likely be stuck below 4% for years, the bank said.

“Remittances continue to be an important component of the global economy, surpassing international aid. However this ‘new normal’ of weak growth in remittances could present challenges for millions of families that rely heavily on these flows. This, in turn, can seriously impact the economies of many countries around the world bringing on a new set of challenges to economic growth,” said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director of the World Bank’s Global Indicators Group.

Source: Diaspora Dollars Dwindle: Indian Remittance Growth Slips to 12-Year Low – India Real Time – WSJ


Building Collapse Illustrates Peril of Do-It-Yourself Construction – China Real Time Report – WSJ

A fatal building collapse in southern China has highlighted a practice that more than once has produced death traps: structures built with little oversight by villagers on former farmland.

Such slapped-together buildings have tended to grow even more precarious as they age and as extra floors are added.

Four six-story buildings in a suburban area of Wenzhou, a city on China’s southern coast, collapsed Monday morning, claiming at least 22 lives, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, which cited local authorities. Six survivors were pulled from the building before the rescue was called off, Xinhua said.

The buildings were close to industrial parks of Wenzhou, a hub for light manufacturing including shoemaking, and most residents were migrant workers.The buildings were several decades old and erected by villagers, according to an article by the Wenzhou Daily that the local government reposted on its official website Tuesday. It said investigations were under way but an initial analysis showed that the collapse was likely caused by the buildings’ low quality and shaky foundation, a problem made worse by continuous rainfall in the past few days.

It used to be common practice in the 1980s and 1990s for residents outside China’s urban area to build houses with their own hands, often on what had been farmland. Over the years, floors were added without approval, leaving tottering buildings crumbling under the extra weight.

As cities have grown to incorporate such areas, local governments have tried to get rid of these “towns within cities,” tearing down the aging and shoddily built structures. The Wenzhou government had targeted much of the complex of the recent collapse for demolition, some of which had already started.

It wasn’t the first collapse of villager-built housing. Two years ago, a building under construction by local farmers in Xian in western China collapsed, killing five people.

Some online commenters pointed out that photos of the buildings involved show that more floors had been added to the original construction. The state-run newspaper Beijing News quoted a Wenzhou resident as saying that it was common for self-built buildings in the area to have additional floors.

The practice of adding floors has sometimes been a way for the owners of buildings targeted for demolition to extract more compensation from the government, which bases amounts to pay out to residents on the size of the living areas.

Another building collapse in Xian in 2011, which claimed seven lives, was caused by illegal additions the building’s owner had made to get more compensation, according to the local government. The owner was detained by the local police.

That tragedy came months after the Xian government rolled out new regulations to forbid compensation for illegal additions to a building. The local government said at the time that more than 50 cases of “self-built” building collapses had caused 69 deaths since 2007.

It was unclear whether the owners of the collapsed buildings in Wenzhou, who weren’t identified by the local government, will be held legally responsible for the casualties.

The Wenzhou collapse prompted calls for more regulation. “If relevant departments are still indifferent in face of self-built houses in such a disastrous state,” read one commentary by Beijing News on Tuesday, “then similar tragedies will be repeated.”

Source: Building Collapse Illustrates Peril of Do-It-Yourself Construction – China Real Time Report – WSJ

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