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Indonesia to Prohibit Some Tsunami Rebuilding

Indonesia (search) will ban rebuilding along much of the coastline of tsunami-hit Aceh province to lessen damage in the event of a second giant wave, but will compensate people who lose their land, according to a draft government proposal seen Saturday.

Most villagers say they want to return to their original settlements, regardless of the risk of a second tsunami and the document, which forms the basis of the government's plan for rebuilding in Aceh, acknowledges that the issue is "complex and sensitive."

The blueprint envisages a 328 feet "buffer zone" along the west coast of Aceh on Sumatra island. Building will be banned in the strip, which will be planted with mangrove forests to reduce the impact of any future tsunami.

"The primary aims of the process are to ensure that ... lives and property are safeguarded," the plan says.

Indonesia was the hardest hit of the 11 countries struck by the Dec. 26 tsunami — more than 128,000 people died and hundreds of thousands were left homeless. The government estimates that reconstruction will cost an estimated US$4.8 billion and take up to five years.

Relocating survivors has been one of the most contentious parts of the reconstruction plan.

Foreign aid agencies have been waiting to study the document before deciding how to spend the millions of dollars of funds they have to disperse in the region.

The plan states that "in the event that land ... is needed to safeguard the entire community from future disasters (such as escape routes or buffer zones), the government will provide aid or fair compensation to the owner," the document states.

Many villagers have already moved back to their original settlements and are rebuilding their houses where they once stood. Corruption is rampant in Aceh (search), and few people expect the government to pay compensation fairly.

Aid workers in the province say privately that it will be difficult to restrict building along the whole coastline because thousands in the province are fisherman and need to be close to their boats.

Rebuilding in Aceh will be coordinated by the government's newly formed Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (search). The body is to be headed by former mines and energy minister Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, who will be inaugurated later Saturday.