China / Society

Experts: Focus lacking on rural pollution

By Luo Wangshu and Zheng Jinran (China Daily) Updated: 2015-03-18 07:52

Widespread rural pollution is a major source of pollution for the Yangtze River, the country's longest river, a top legislator said.

"Since the reservoir at the Three Gorges Dam started storing water, the water quality of the mainstream Yangtze River has remained the same, even better. However, minor branches of the river have been polluted by waste from rural areas," said Xie Deti, a National People's Congress deputy and dean of College of Resources and Environment at Southwest University in Chongqing.

"For instance, there is no special treatment for chemical fertilizer, poultry manure, sewage and garbage in rural areas, especially the small farms, which generate direct pollution to water and rivers," he said.

In recent years, authorities' attention has been drawn to industrial and city pollution. But Xie said that less attention has been paid to the rural areas.

Xie has studied pollution for more than a decade and said there is no technical difficulty in solving the problem.

"The importance is to raise public awareness. It is everyone's obligation," said Xie, who proposed providing subsidies to farmers for pollution control.

In rural areas, the majority of garbage could be composted or broken down in the villages, with only plastic bags needing to be recycled, he said.

"Farmers would not throw away anything that they could trade in for money," Xie said.

If the government could establish a system to pay for used bottles, batteries or plastic bags, farmers would never toss them out, he said.

It would also establish a system to reduce pollution and establish environmental awareness among farmers.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection has launched a national project in rural areas to build garbage collection areas to reduce the direct pollution to the surroundings, spending 1 million yuan ($160,000) in one village.

By the end of last year, the ministry had invested more than 25.5 billion yuan for 59,000 villages, with more than 110 million rural residents receiving benefits.

However, Xie said, the fancy facilities do not solve the problem. "For instance, there are no resources to clean the garbage collection areas every day. On the contrary, the filled refuse landfills have grown into new sources of pollution," he said.

More than 90 percent of villages nationwide did not have facilities to deal with garbage and waste, making pollution in rural areas a thorny problem, Chen Jining, minister of environmental protection, said at a news conference on March 9.

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