SHANGHAI - Villagers in southwestern China are scratching their heads after an estimated more than $60,000 was spent to paint an entire barren mountainside green.
The official Xinhua News Agency estimated the cost of the paint job at $60,600 and quoted villagers saying that if spent on actual plants and trees, the money could have restored a far greater area of barren mountain.
Some villagers speculated that Fumin County officials, whose office building faces the mountain, were trying to change the area's feng shui - the ancient Chinese belief of harmonizing one's physical environment for maximum health and financial benefit.
A woman who answered the phone at the Fumin County 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 refused to give her name.
Others speculated it was an unusual attempt at "greening" the area in keeping with calls for more attention to environmental protection. Photographs of the mountain showed the exposed rock covered in an artificial green the color of Astroturf looming over houses against a scrubby background.
Laoshou mountain was quarried for more than two decades but ordered shut recently following complaints about dust and noise from villagers.