GUIYANG, July 15 (Xinhua) -- On the Chishui River in southwest China's Guizhou province, river chiefs are responsible for watercourses, much as mayors, and county or district heads are responsible for their beats.
"Although it's not such a weighty title, a river chief has heavy responsibilities," said Liu Jianping, head of Qixingguan District in the city of Bijie, and a river chief. A river chief is responsible for the water quality of their river and its branches.
For river chiefs who have done their job excellently, their authority will be granted 10 million yuan (1.6 million U.S. dollars) as a reward, which is supposed to be spent on pollution control and ecological protection along the river. Those who have overseen deteriorating water quality will be punished.
ECO PILOT ZONE
The river chief assessment is one of Guizhou Province's latest attempts to get clean and green. Last month, Guizhou was approved as a provincial level ecological pilot area, the second after Fujian, and will be at the forefront of institutional innovation in ecological assessment, lifelong responsibility mechanisms, ecology compensation and international cooperation.
Unlike Fujian with a developed economy, Guizhou is behind national averages in both economic development and individual income. The gross domestic product per capita of Guizhou stayed at 3,700 U.S. dollars in 2013, 3,000 U.S. dollars below par. Farmers' annual net income was 5,434 yuan (875 U.S. dollars) last year, far below the average of 8,896 yuan.
In such circumstances, balancing economic development and ecological protection is a major challenge.
In March, Chinese President Xi Jinping said interplay between development and environmental protection is an intrinsic requirement of sustainable development, and the fundamental principle of modernization.
"To protect the environment is to protect productivity, and to improve the environment is to develop productivity," he told lawmakers from Guizhou at the annual session of the National People's Congress.
EVERYONE ON BOARD
At the annual conference of the Eco Forum Global that concluded on Saturday in the provincial capital Guiyang, representatives from nine national economic development pilot areas shared their experiences.
Ding Lei, deputy head of Shanghai Pudong New Area, said industrial projects that may harm the environment must use advanced processing technology to achieve zero emissions and zero pollution.
"For example, the wastewater discharged from Jinqiao processing zone is clean enough for fish farming," he said.
Liangjiang New Area in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality is on the upper reaches of Yangtze River and the core water storage area for the Three Gorges. Its location has made protecting the environment while developing an important task.
"Any pollution may bring disaster to the middle and lower Yangtze River," said Tang Zongwei, deputy director of Liangjiang's management committee.The area has adopted "intelligence and nature" as development principles, respecting and protecting nature on one hand, and making full use low-carbon, environmentally friendly, energy saving products on the other.
Huang Kangsheng, vice chairman of the Guizhou Provincial Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said pilot areas have explored paths for sustainable opening up, reform and regional development.
"During economic construction, pilot areas should stick to the bottom lines of development and ecological protection, seeking innovation in sustainable development, setting themselves up as archetypes of green growth," he said.