China admits reckless pollution has spawned string of toxic 'cancer villages'

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 22, 2013 10:20 hrs

Decades of reckless pollution have spawned a string of toxic 'cancer villages,' the Chinese Government has admitted for the first time.

The admission by China' Environment ministry came in a five-year plan on tackling pollution.

The document said that in recent years, toxic and hazardous chemical pollution has caused many environmental disasters, cutting off drinking water supplies, and even leading to severe health and social problems such as 'cancer villages'.

According to the Telegraph, environmentalists have long campaigned for the government to recognize and help the hundreds of cancer clusters caused by poisoned soil, water or air.

In 2009, Deng Fei, an investigative journalist helped to plot some of the worst-hit villages on a Google map.

The plan outlines a clampdown on the use and production of 58 types of toxic chemical.

State news agency Xinhua reported on Friday that the document warns that China faces a grave situation in terms of chemical pollution control.

It cited inadequate pollution risk control by enterprises, a lack of systematic policies to restrain the making and use of highly toxic and dangerous chemicals and authorities' insufficient pollution monitoring and supervision capabilities, the report said.

The plan's publication comes amid a growing public outcry over the toll pollution is taking on public health.

Cancer is now China's biggest killer, and cancer rates have surged since the beginning of China's economic miracle, the report said.

One in four Chinese now die from cancer, and there has been an 80 percent rise in the mortality rate from cancer over the past 30 years.

According to the report, the issue of groundwater pollution hit the headlines after Deng launched an online campaign inviting internet-users to post photographs of polluted rivers near their homes.

Ma Jun, who runs the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said government officials had traditionally claimed there was insufficient scientific evidence to link "cancer clusters" and pollution, the report added. (ANI)

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