China's coal-rich Shanxi Province has launched a three-year plan to improve people's lives in 676 villages that used to have mines, said a local official on Tuesday.
According to Zhang Huaiwen, director of the Land and Resources Department of Shanxi, the mined-out areas in the province total 6,000 square kilometers, 3.8 percent of Shanxi's area.
In as many as 676 villages, mining has eroded land, damaged houses and drained underground water.
Zhang said that in 2007, 1.19 billion yuan (US$153 million) will be allocated to 201 villages to improve the living conditions of 170,000 people by relocating them or having their houses repaired.
The money will also be used to dig wells to ensure there is enough potable water, and to improve the condition of the fields to make them arable, said the director.
Shanxi takes a proactive approach to mining-related problems. It has shut down 6,000 illegal mines and will collect money for sustainable development from coal producing enterprises.
(Xinhua News Agency April 4, 2007)