BEIJING, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Authorities are pumping in more than 58 billion yuan (8.5 billion U.S. dollars) to boost the transportation system and protect the environment as Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, is preparing for the 16th Asian Games next November.
"The investment, which involves 739 transportation and environmental protection projects, is to ensure better living conditions for all visitors to the Games," Su Zequn, executive vice-mayor of Guangzhou, was quoted as saying by Wednesday's China Daily.
The improvements will benefit residents after the Games, Su said.
The latest projects include a large urban metro subway network consisting of eight lines, to be completed before the opening of the sporting event.
"The metro network will greatly improve traffic conditions for residents," Su said. Up to 80 percent of the sports facilities used for the Games will also be accessible by metro lines.
All projects will be completed by August of next year, Su said.
On the environmental front, Yang Liu, deputy director of Guangzhou environmental protection bureau, said the city had set a goal to ensure as many as 361 days of better air quality next year.
Air quality in the city improved in the first five months of this year, with 37 fewer days of haze and dust than in the same period of last year, the newspaper said.
"But the task of ensuring better air quality during the Games remains tough," Yang said.
To fight the problem, authorities plan to raise up to 1.8 billion yuan in private funds to complement public funding toward improving air quality.
"As many as 32 highly polluting chemical plants will be removed or ordered to stop production by the end of this year," he said.
Similarly, 38 sewage treatment facilities are scheduled to be built before the Games' opening next year, with an added sewage treatment capacity of 2.25 million tonnes a day, sources with the Guangzhou water affairs bureau said.