Beijing Earmarks $40 Billion to Get in Olympic Shape
BEIJING Beijing plans to pump nearly $40 billion into a massive infrastructure building spree to make sure the city is ready to host the 2008 Olympics, state media said on Monday.
The groundwork building drive will dwarf Beijing's $2 billion Olympic operating budget and the $2 billion it has put aside for venue construction.
"Beijing will raise 320 billion yuan ($38.7 billion) from home and abroad for building 860 infrastructure projects before 2008 to facilitate smooth operation of the 2008 Olympic Games," Xinhua news agency said.
Over half the money -- 184 billion yuan -- would go towards expanding the Chinese capital's subway, light rail, highway and other transportation systems, Xinhua said.
Beijing is home to more than 2 million cars, and counting, and its crippling traffic jams have prompted much hand-wringing about transportation and air pollution during the Games.
The energy sector, struggling to keep up with skyrocketing demand, would be another big target in the spending spree, receiving 50 billion yuan, Xinhua said, quoting the China Construction News.
"Another 15.5 billion yuan will be used to dismantle 69 villages in the city proper," it said.
The report did not provide further details, nor did it say where people living in the dismantled villages would be moved, but many old "hutong" lanes and traditional courtyard homes are disappearing every year.
Earlier this month, hundreds of farmers protested in a Beijing suburb after being forced off their land and not offered compensation or resettlement to make way for the Shunyi Olympic Aquatic Park, the venue for 2008's rowing and canoeing competitions.
Investment in "water control" and environmental improvement projects would reach 34 billion yuan, Xinhua said.
Improving air and water quality in the heavily polluted city is key to the city's drive to be ready for the Games.