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River clean-up project "needs accelerating"
www.chinaview.cn 2006-04-18 08:10:12

    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 Huaihe River.

    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 Protection Bureau.

    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 Valley.

    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)

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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