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Beijing to spend $1.5 billion on beautification

Thousands of buildings will be cleaned and repainted, hundreds more knocked down and replaced with parkland.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2007 20:40 IST

Beijing is to spend about 12 billion yuan ($1.54 billion) this year on giving the Chinese capital a facelift ahead of the 2008 Olympics, officials said on Wednesday.

Thousands of buildings will be cleaned and repainted, hundreds more knocked down and replaced with parkland while special attention will be paid to the look of the city's major arterial roads and sites such as Tiananmen Square.

"The Olympic Games are our opportunity to construct a better Beijing," Lu Haijun, deputy director of Beijing's Environmental Construction office, told a news conference.

"This is desperately needed for the citizens of Beijing. By constructing a better living environment, we hope the people of Beijing like the city and enjoy living here."

Lu said the outside of 20,000 buildings would be cleaned, while sloping roofs would be added to 700 buildings that currently have flat tops.

Traditional "hutong" alleyway dwellings would also be cleaned up and 22 more illegal "urban villages" would be levelled to add to the 4.5 million square metres of land already cleared, a third of which has been turned into parkland.

Major roads as well as the Olympic Green, airport, railway station, Wangfujing shopping street and the area around Shichahai Park will be rejuvenated.

"According to my understanding the total budget in the environmental improvement and constructions conducted by the municipal government and at district level should be around around 12 billion yuan," Lu said.

China is spending about $40 billion on upgrading Beijing's infrastructure for the Games.

Much of the scruffiness and air pollution in Beijing at present is caused by the hundreds of construction sites that litter the booming city.

Sui Zhenjiang, director of the Beijing Municipal Construction Commission, said, however, that he thought it unlikely that construction would be halted for the period of the Games.

"I don't think it makes sense to suspend the building of Beijing," he said. "I'm sure the construction will continue during the Games.

"For the big projects we're going to improve coordination so they don't affect air quality during the Games," he added.

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