The mainland is planning to spend 26.6 billion yuan over the next five years to prevent further pollution of the Songhua River and help in its cleanup. The programme would try to ensure that 90 per cent of people in the region have clean drinking water by 2010, the China News Service reported yesterday, citing a State Environmental Protection Administration planning conference in Harbin . The conference pledged to choose 263 projects within five years to build 'environmental infrastructure' and water treatment facilities. The plan comes almost two months after the Songhua River was caught in one of the most serious pollution disasters in decades. On November 13, a blast at a Jilin petrochemical plant owned by PetroChina resulted in more than 100 tonnes of cancer-causing benzene pouring into the river. The toxic spill forced a four-day suspension of water supplies to Harbin, in Heilongjiang province . Poor handling of the incident also led to the sacking of a state-level official in charge of environmental protection and a municipal-level official's suicide. Under the proposal, some 8.6 billion yuan would be invested in sewage processing facilities to reach the target of disposing of 1.43 billion tonnes of waste water annually, the report said. Thirteen billion yuan would be allocated to building and improving sewage pipe networks.