Rubbish piled up, smelly public toilets and stinking rivers.
These are familiar sights on the outskirts of towns and
And in China's latest modernization drive, they are in danger of
becoming the "forgotten areas" of the country.
Urban areas have long been the focus for investment, and
villages are now under the spotlight after building a "new
socialist countryside" was listed as the central government's
foremost task in the next five years.
Wang Decheng, a professor with China Agriculture
University, said the areas separating built-up zones and the
countryside are facing dual pollution both from urban rubbish
sewage and industrial waste and rural pesticide and fertilizer
"It is high time to address this problem and improve the overall
management and planning in these areas," Wang said.
He said even Beijing, the country's political and cultural
center, also faces the problem in its outlying areas, which are
also known as "villages inside cities."
Dense residential areas, made up of poorly-built houses, a
filthy environment, and a lack of sanitary facilities are some of
the major problems in these "villages."
Some sociologists believe that the poor living conditions not
only harm the physical and mental health of residents, but can also
easily trigger social conflicts.
With Beijing preparing for the 2008
Olympic Games, the municipal government vowed to revamp most of
its 300-plus "villages inside city" before the Games begin, and
about 80 such areas will receive a facelift this year.
Shaanxi, an inland province in northwest China, the zones
between urban and rural areas also face similar problems.
But Yang Jianping, an official with Xi'an Municipal Urban Public
Affairs Administration Bureau, said things were improving.
He said Xi'an, capital of the province, buries 3,300 tons of
rubbish every day in a pit Jiangcun Gou near the urban area.
The pit used to be a serious polluting source, as fluid from it
contaminated land and rivers nearby.
The city began to address the problem in 1999 and now fluid from
the pit is collected and sent to a sewage treatment plant built
next to the pit, Yang said.
In Guangzhou, capital of south China's
Guangdong Province, the municipal government has also made
great efforts in improving the land between urban and rural areas,
which accounts for 70 percent of the city's entire area, and
contains many factories.
In December last year, the municipal government upgraded four
sewage disposal plants in the areas, and cleaned up river banks,
where large amounts of rubbish had been dumped.
The city's environmental protection bureau assigned nearly 1,200
environmental supervisors last December to check 377 factories and
power plants in the zones. About 10 found to be causing heavy
pollution were fined.
All the power plants in the areas have also been ordered to take
desulphurization processes, according to the bureau.
(China Daily March 23, 2006)