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China acts to tackle soil pollution / by Chen Xia, April 28, 2016 Adjust font size:

China will take a series of actions to tackle soil pollution after a national environmental watchdog reported its work to the country's top lawmakers.

China will introduce a plan on soil protection and pollution control and conduct a nationwide study on soil conditions this year.[File photo]

At the ongoing bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) on Monday, Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection, said that the country would introduce a plan aimed at soil protection and pollution control.

At a press conference on Tuesday, he announced that a nationwide soil pollution study would be conducted. The study will mainly focus on lands used for farming and construction purposes. A database on basic soil conditions across the country will also be established.

These plans have received significant support. The Ministry of Finance recently announced that it had appropriated 9.09 billion yuan (US$1.40 billion) to establish a special fund for soil protection, a 145.6% increase as compared with the money invested in the field last year.

By announcing the plans, the central government has shown its determination to address soil pollution, said Li Yujun, a researcher with the Institute for Urban and Environmental Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "The establishment of the fund and the increase in investment will give pollution control plans more room to maneuver," he said.

Soil pollution and subsequent treatment are complicated in China, said Peng Yingdeng, a researcher with the National Engineering Research Center of Urban Environmental Pollution Control. On one hand, when soil is polluted, it takes a long time for people to realize it. By that time, the pollution has become severe. On the other hand, China lacks statistical data and relevant laws on soil pollution. There are also no standards for evaluating the conditions of polluted soil after it receives treatment.

Soil pollution captured great public attention in China recently after about 500 middle school students in east China were suspected of being sickened by polluted soil on their new campus.