IMAGE: PAINTED HILLSIDE
Eyepress  /  AP
The paint job applied to an abandoned quarry in southwest China stands out with its aquamarine color.
msnbc.com news services
updated 2/14/2007 3:11:00 PM ET 2007-02-14T20:11:00

Villagers in southwestern China are scratching their heads after an estimated more than $60,000 was spent to paint a barren hillside green.

The forestry bureau of Fumin county, in China’s southwest Yunnan province, paid $60,000 for a team of seven painters to spend 45 days daubing the disused quarry at Lihua village in green paint, the Beijing News said.

“When they first started, we thought they were applying a pesticide, and then would plant some trees,” the paper quoted a Lihua resident as saying.

“The painters were saying it was to adjust the hill’s ’feng shui’,” he said, referring to a traditional Chinese belief that people’s fortunes are determined by their surroundings.

The site was quarried for more than two decades but ordered shut recently following complaints about dust and noise from villagers.

Residents later discovered the hillside was “directly opposite” the site of a new office for the county forestry department, the paper said.

“How could they be so superstitious?” a resident said.

A woman who answered the phone at the forestry department said they also were unaware of reasons behind the paint job.

“This is an order from above. You should ask the leader from above. I don’t have any information on this,” said the woman, who like many Chinese bureaucrats, refused to give her name.

China has a history of slapping on a coat of paint to smarten up public buildings and conceal eyesores.

As part of Beijing’s successful bid for the 2008 Olympics, city authorities repainted scruffy apartment buildings and even painted some brown lawns green to impress Olympic inspectors.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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