China to spend $16 billion to tackle Beijing pollution crisis

SHANGHAI Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:46am EDT

1 of 11. People walk on a construction waste hill next to a residential area during sunset in Beijing, March 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China will spend 100 billion yuan ($16 billion) over three years to deal with Beijing's pollution, an official newspaper reported on Friday, as the government tries to defuse mounting public anger over environmental degradation.

Beijing's government has pledged to improve sewage disposal, garbage treatment and air quality, as well as crack down on illegal construction, the China Daily newspaper said, citing a three-year plan released on Thursday.

Air quality in Beijing, a city of around 20 million people, has mostly stayed above "very unhealthy" and "hazardous" levels since the beginning of this year.

Pollution was one of the key themes at the recent National Party Congress, where China's new leaders were confirmed. Many Chinese feel the government lacks bite when it comes to enforcing policies designed to protect the environment.

Beijing's plan includes laying or upgrading 1,290 km (800 miles) of sewage pipeline, building five garbage incineration plants, setting up 47 water recycling plants and upgrading 20 sewage disposal plants, said China Daily.

Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun called on the government to allow the private sector to participate in these investments.

The government also plans to curb illegal construction and land use, and will compile a list of illegal buildings for demolition next year, Beijing Deputy Mayor Wang Wei told China Daily.

Most of China's major cities are plagued by pollution of one sort or another. Earlier this month thousands of dead pigs were found floating in one of Shanghai's main water sources.

($1 = 6.2143 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Stephen Coates and Miral Fahmy)

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