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Residents Seeing Red over Green Paint
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A barren hill among forested mountains beside a highway is green in Fumin County in southwest China's Yunnan Province; however, it's not green from plants, but rather from paint.

The strange green hill glistens in the light of the sun. Though the color of plants, on closer inspection, one finds little vegetation, but rather a coat of green paint.

The hill is called Lao Shou and is located in a forest reserve. It used to be a stone pit but was closed for disturbing villagers nearby with its noisy machines and dust from stone particles.

"A dozen painters spent more than 20 days painting the hill last summer. Large quantities of oil paint were used," a villager was quoted by a Kunming-based newspaper Metropolitan Times as saying.

The villagers told a journalist that they hoped the local government would plant trees on the hill after closing the stone pit. They were quite confused when later they found some painters setting out to work on the hill with airbrushes.

The painters said they worked for the local forestry bureau. Apparently, the hill was painted green because of its location opposite a newly built office block for the local government.

It might have been a quick fix for inspections by superior officers, the villagers said. The local forestry bureau had no comments, but the awkward project has aroused criticism from local villagers.

The villagers accused the project of being useless and costly. It cost several times more than planting trees on the hill, they said. Some of them even felt dizzy at the smell of the oil-based paint.

Experts say that maintenance of the painted hill will result in further costs as the green paint gradually erodes. Meanwhile, the oil paint contains pollutants damaging to people's health.

(CRI February 14, 2007)

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