China to Invest $175 Billion in Environment Clean-Up
BEIJING China plans to invest 1.4 trillion yuan ($175 billion) in environmental protection in the next five years, state media said on Tuesday, to curb water and air pollution so severe it causes riots and health problems.
The money -- equivalent to about 1.5 percent of GDP -- is to be spent on measures including control of water pollution, improving air quality in cities and halting soil erosion, the official Xinhua news agency quoted He Bingguang, of the State Development and Reform Commission, as saying.
Sewage treatment plants would be built in 10 river valleys to dispose of waste water discharged by urban areas and part of the funds would also be used to reduce sulphur dioxide and dust in major cities.
China is home to 20 of the world's 30 most smog-choked cities.
The country also faces serious pollution of its soil, Xinhua added, saying that the problem threatens China's food safety, people's health and the sustainable development of agriculture.
"It is estimated that nationwide 12 million tonnes of grain are polluted by heavy metals that have found their way into soil each year," Xinhua quoted Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, as saying in a separate report.
China produced about 484 million tonnes of grain in 2005.
The country has been struggling to curb its environmental degradation, the product of more than two decades of near-double-digit annual growth.
Its pollution woes became a subject of international concern last November when a toxic spill poisoned the Songhua river, a source of drinking water for millions. ($1 = 8 yuan)
(Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby in Shanghai)