left corner left corner
China Daily Website  

Battle to clean up soil

Updated: 2014-04-18 07:23
( China Daily)

Contaminated soil is said to be even harder to restore to health than polluted water. And it is a horrible fact that the majority of people have long been kept in the dark about the degree to which China's soil has been polluted.

But the Ministry of Land and Resources finally bit the bullet on Thursday and announced the findings from a soil survey conducted from April 2005 to December 2012. Of the 6.3 million square kilometers of soil that was surveyed, 16.1 percent has been polluted to different degrees, and the percentage of the polluted arable land surveyed was 19.4 percent.

This announcement is a sign that the government is ready to face up to the situation and realizes that a plan and timetable for its implementation are needed to stop the pollution from deteriorating further and to rehabilitate the polluted soil.

The soil pollution has been caused by the mining of minerals, the overuse of fertilizer and pesticides, and the use of polluted water on arable land.

Cadmium-contaminated rice first identified in South China's Guangdong province in 2013 serves as a reminder that industrial pollution, which has been continuously accumulating over the past three decades, has found its way to the dining table through the water we drink and the food we eat.

The figures released suggest that pollution of all kinds is becoming the most serious drag on China's development and its goal of developing the country into a moderately prosperous society by the year 2020.

Starting this year, the soil contaminated by heavy metals is being rehabilitated on a trial basis, which is a sign that the central authorities are aware of the urgency of dealing with the threat of soil pollution.

Healthy soil requires greater efforts be made in a wide range of areas to stop polluting industries from discharging pollutants and dumping waste anywhere they want, and to train rural villagers in the use of fertilizers and pesticides in a way that minimizes harm to arable land.

It will be a complicated, costly and difficult task to restore the polluted soil to health and prevent any future contamination, and we should not expect it to yield swift results. But it is a mission that the central authorities must remain resolute in fulfilling, as it is battle that the country cannot afford to lose.