BEIJING, April 18 -- Treatment and flood control work
on East China's Huaihe River, one of the country's most heavily polluted rivers,
needs to be accelerated to meet State Council targets, according to an official.
Qian Min, director of the Huaihe River Water
Resources Commission, said by the end of last year only nine of 19 key projects
had been completed, at a cost of 23.9 billion yuan (US$3 billion).
The comments at a national meeting on treatment of
the Huaihe River on Sunday were reported by Xinhua.
The central government has set the goal of completing
all the 19 key projects by 2007, focusing on prevention and control of floods.
Qian admitted that they are facing mounting
investment pressure to meet the goal.
"From 2006 to 2007, the central and local governments
need to invest 10.6 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) and 3.4 billion yuan (US$420
million) respectively to ensure the achievement of the goal," Qian was quoted as
saying by Xinhua.
The 1,000-kilometre Huaihe originates in central
China's Henan Province and runs through Anhui and Jiangsu Provinces. The areas
along the river have a history of flooding and droughts.
And thousands of small factories, which discharged
heavy pollution and waste, mushroomed along the river in the 1980s, making the
water condition deteriorate severely.
The improvements were ordered after it was listed as
one of the most polluted rivers in need of urgent treatment about 10 years ago.
Central China's Henan Province, where the river
originates, has made considerable achievement in dealing with the pollution of
The river has reached its best condition for the past
few decades, with the pollution level in many parts gradually turning from heavy
to low-grade, said Wang Guoping, director of the Henan Provincial Environment
Ninety per cent of the rivers in the Huaihe Valley
flowing out of Henan Province has reached the required standards, greatly
reducing complaints from the downstream provinces that heavily rely on the river
water both for civilian and industrial use, he said.
In a series of crackdowns in 2005, the province shut
down 978 heavily polluting plants, of which 107 are located within the Huaihe
The number of paper plants in the province has shrunk
from about 1,300 in 2000 to 350 today, according to Wang.
"We said to the plant owners that if their pollutant
discharge levels reached certain standards then they would survive, if not they
would close," said Wang.
The province has mapped out a plan that by the end of
2007, all its county-level cities and key towns will have their own wastewater
and garbage processing plants.
Construction will begin on 69 wastewater processing
plants this year to further enhance the processing rate of civilian wastewater.
The provincial government has also earmarked nearly
200 million yuan (US$25 million) to ensure the drinking water safety of more
than 1 million people living in nearly 700 villages within the Huaihe Valley.
(Source: China Daily)