Rapid desertification costing China $40 billion every year | india | Hindustan Times
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Rapid desertification costing China $40 billion every year

Rapid desertification in China is costing the country more than 40 billion dollars every year in direct and indirect economic losses, state press reported Tuesday.

india Updated: Jun 17, 2003 11:16 IST

Rapid desertification in China is costing the country more than US $40 billion every year in direct and indirect economic losses, state press reported Tuesday.

Chinese experts estimate that the fast encroaching sands are causing a direct loss of 64.2 billion yuan (US $7.73 billion) with indirect losses put at 288.9 billion yuan (US $34.8 billion), the Xinhua news agency said.

The direct losses are mainly from the loss or decrease in soil productivity caused by wind and water erosion, and saline and alkaline soil, said Lu Qi from the China Research and Development Center for Prevention and Control on Desertification.

The indirect losses came from suspension of communication and transportation, villages being buried, the delay or cancellation of flights and reduction in the life of irrigation works, which are heavily affected by desertification.

Xinhua said China now has 2.62 million square kilometers (1.04 million square miles) of areas under desertification, double the total farmland in the country.

"We should take more effective measures to control the desertification," said Lu.

Recent satellite information indicates desertification is increasing in the provinces of Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Shaanxi and Qinghai and the autonomous regions of Xinjiang Uygur and Ningxia Hui, the China Daily said earlier this year.

The desert is now less than 250 kilometres (160 miles) from Beijing, which in recent years has seen a major increase in the frequency of sand storms, prompting widespread concern in the government.

Despite costly efforts to halt the advance of the desert on the city, partly by creating a green belt of trees, violent sandstorms could still be a major blight during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, experts have warned.

First Published: Jun 17, 2003 11:16 IST