HEFEI, July 12 (Xinhua) -- China's environment chief
on Thursday unveiled a set of tough new rules to tackle worsening lake pollution
while lambasting the country's "bumpkin policies" that encouraged local
officials to turn a blind eye to environmental hazards.
The regulations follow findings showing "rampant"
violation of environment rules by almost nine in ten of the country's industrial
parks and two fifths of companies.
Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental
Protection Administration (SEPA), said the new rules covering China's three
major lake areas -- the eastern Taihu Lake, Chaohu Lake and the southwestern
Dianchi Lake -- included:
-- A ban on all projects involving discharges
containing ammonia and phosphorus, and the turning down of existing applications
to establish such projects.
-- A ban on the production, use and sales of
detergents containing phosphorous around the lake drainage areas.
-- The removal of all fish farms from the three lake
areas by the end of 2008.
-- A ban on fishponds, vegetable and flower farms
that may involve the use of fertilizers within one kilometer of the lakeside.
Zhou outlined the measures at a special meeting on
lake pollution in Hefei, capital of east China's Anhui Province.
In the last two months, blue-green algae outbreaks
have been reported in the three lake areas, endangering domestic water supplies.
On July 4, water supplies to 200,000 people in Shuyang County, Jiangsu Province,
were halted for more than 40 hours after ammonia and nitrogen were found in a
"Environmental problems, if improperly handled, can
trigger major social crises, and improving water quality has become our most
urgent task," Zhou told environment officials.
He said illegal activities that harmed the
environment were "rampant".
SEPA investigations showed 87.3 percent of the 126
industrial parks in 11 provinces had violated environment rules, allowing
environmentally harmful companies into their parks.
They also showed half of the 75 wastewater-processing
factories failed to properly process water or were not operating at all. Of 529
companies that SEPA inspected, 44.2 percent were violating environment rules.
"Hazards are everywhere, and environmental accidents
are very likely to happen," he said.
Some local officials often relied on companies for
GDP contribution and their own promotions, and failed in their responsibilities
to supervise the companies' environmental impacts.
"We must get rid of all 'bumpkin policies' or
protective local policies that sacrifice the environment for profit," Zhou said.
Frequent water pollution incidents also increased the
cabinet's concern, as a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier
Wen Jiabao on Wednesday stressed the need to amend the existing law on handling
water pollution, allowing for harsher punishments.
China recorded 161 pollution accidents last year,
according to the SEPA. The authorities shut down 3,176 polluting plants in a
campaign in which the discharges of 720,000 companies were inspected last year,
according to the SEPA.