No new industrial projects will be approved in several cities and industrial
parks along four major river systems to prevent them from being further
Six cities, two counties and five industrial zones were indicted by the State
Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) for their role in polluting the
Yangtze, Yellow, Huaihe and Haihe rivers.
SEPA will not approve any projects for three months apart from treatment
plants and recycling facilities; and the ban will not be lifted until the
sources of untreated wastewater are shut down and treatment facilities
Pan Yue, vice-minister of SEPA, told China Daily that the environmental
authorities had zeroed in on the areas following a thorough investigation.
are Chaohu and Bengbu in Anhui, Baiyin in Ningxia, Bayannur in Inner Mongolia,
Weinan in Shaanxi, Zhoukou in Henan; and the two counties are Hejin and Xiangfen
The industrial parks are in Wuhu in Anhui, Lanzhou in Gansu, Handan in Hebei,
Puyang in Henan and Shenxian County in Shandong.
Surveillance by the environmental watchdog from January to April showed that
water quality in these places was extremely poor, said Pan.
In Chaohu, for example, 18 of the 23 industrial plants checked were found
releasing pollutants illegally into Chaohu Lake.
The lake was also hit by outbreaks of blue and green algae last month, caused
by lakeside factories pumping untreated wastewater into it.
Altogether, 32 heavily polluting factories and six wastewater treatment
plants were blacklisted by SEPA and ordered to fix their "environmental
problems" in three months.
"Suspending approval of new industrial projects is the toughest measure that
SEPA can take, given its (limited) authority," Pan said.
But he is worried about vested local interests.
"Pursuit of short-term goals is leading to ever increasing pollution despite
various measures," Pan said.
"Traditional ways of development have caused the near breakdown of China's
resources and environment; and people's lives are in great danger."
Despite the challenges, the green campaign will be extended to Pearl and
Liaohe rivers, the entire Yangtze River basin and some key sea coast areas, Pan
said. He also called for a joint effort by the ministries of environment, water
affairs, urban construction, forest and agriculture to tackle the problem.
Zhang Jianyu, a visiting scholar at Tsinghua University, said: "The fact that
SEPA has to repeatedly rely on these drastic but sometimes controversial
measures to enforce some of the very basic environmental requirements reminds us
that there is still a long way to go to have an environmental management system
of full effectiveness and integrity."
Last year, polluted or seriously polluted water in the country's seven major
river systems accounted for 26 percent of the total.
And water quality in seven out of the nine lakes under surveillance was so
bad that it posed danger to human skin on contact.
(China Daily 07/04/2007 page1)