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Tainted farmland to be restored

Updated: 2013-12-31 01:11

Tainted farmland to be restored

Farming of contaminated arable land almost the size of Belgium has been halted and the land will be rehabilitated to ensure food security, a senior official said on Monday.

A soil survey by the Ministry of Environmental Protection found that pollution affects about 3.33 million hectares, Wang Shiyuan, vice-minister of land and resources, said.

"This finding is similar to the geographical environmental survey by the Ministry of Land and Resources," Wang added.

Arable land in China totaled 135.4 million hectares at the end of last year, 15 million hectares more than the bottom line set by the government to ensure food security, Wang said at a news conference, citing the results of the second national land survey released on Monday.

However, the amount of stable cultivated land will drop to 120 million hectares, as some farmland will be converted to forests, grasslands and wetlands, while pollution will leave some land unusable, Wang said.

The environment ministry earlier declined to disclose data related to soil pollution, saying further investigation is needed and that the figure is a State secret.

A nationwide survey on soil pollution was carried out between 2006 and 2010, led by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land and Resources, but the results were never made public.

Bai Chengshou, deputy head of the nature and ecology conservation department at the environmental protection ministry, said results will be published in future, with more data included.

"The current work is to take more samples in key areas with severe soil pollution, so that the results can be more accurate and representative," he said.

Bai said a "soil pollution action plan", similar to the Airborne Pollution Action Plan (2013-17) released by the central government in mid-September, is being prepared.

He said the plan, which will provide a detailed framework for national soil pollution control measures before 2017, is likely to be released around June after being approved by the State Council.

Wang said the swaths of polluted farmland are concentrated in developed eastern and central regions and in the northeastern industrial belt.

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