BEIJING: China and the European Union have begun a €175 million ($278 million) campaign to clean up the country's two biggest river basins as Beijing struggles to cope with the environmental consequences of rapid growth.
The five-year program to clean up the Yangtze and Yellow river basins will work out policies on pollution control and promote awareness about industrial pollution and waste discharge, the Xinhua news agency reported.
The project will also pay people living in China's south-western provinces to plant trees in an effort to improve the ecology along the Yangtze.
The Yangtze basin is one of the most polluted areas in the world, due to decades of heavy industrialisation, damming and influxes of sediment.
A stretch of the Yellow River became so polluted last year it turned red from contamination and almost a third of all fish species in it have become extinct.
Water shortages have been compounded by billions of tonnes of untreated waste water being pumped into lakes and rivers.