The Chinese authorities for the first time in years admitted the existence of so-called “cancer villages”— villages near factories and polluted rivers where cancer rates have reached alarmingly high levels.
Chinese environment ministry's admission came in its newly unveiled plan to curb the release of toxic chemicals—in its latest response to rising public awareness about air and water pollution. A Sina Weibo ( Chinese equivalent of twitter) post by of the state-run Global Times showed a map of the villages that are having startlingly high incidence of cancer which are spreading from the middle of Eastern China to the middle of Western China.
The number of Chinese cancer villagers could exceed 247, covering 27 provinces, according Investigative journalist Deng Fei, who made the research based on existing data, with 197 of them being confirmed. But recent researches, as cited by Xinhua, suggest number of cancer villages could be as high as 400.
Deng Fei recently launched a top-trending campaign on Sina Weibo inviting users to upload photos of their hometown rivers. The move, according to him, was an attempt to show the extent of pollution in Chinese rivers.
Environmental activist Wang Canfa, who runs a rehabilitation centre in Beijing for pollution victims termed the admission by the government as significant since it was the first time the “cancer village” phrase had appeared in a ministry document.
It shows that the environment ministry has acknowledged that pollution has led to people getting cancer.The recognition of the existence of problems is the very first step towards actually solving these problems.
Public frustration over industrial pollution has sparked several protests forcing officials to promise to shut plants. This January, Beijing’s air quality reached, for three days in a row, dangerous levels of pollution, breaking the record of worst air quality.