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GDP growth not at cost of public health

China Daily | Updated: 2009-08-11 07:47

The Liuyang cadmium pollution incident reminds us that local governments should promote people-oriented social development instead of pursuing GDP growth at the cost of jeopardizing public health, says an article in Guangming Daily. Excerpt:

The factory responsible for cadmium pollution that has killed two people in Liuyang, Hunan province, has reportedly been closed down, and the officials responsible for it have either been suspended or detained. Several administrative departments came together to provide medical treatment to people exposed to cadmium, offer health check-ups to residents and dispose of crops poisoned by the toxic chemical.

Cadmium pollution is a threat to local residents' health, and has ruined crops and land nearby. It is a serious public security accident.

In fact, Changsha Xianghe Chemical Plant has been polluting the environment ever since it went into operation in April 2004. Residents of Zhentou town had been complaining to the local authorities about the ill effects of the pollution for almost five years. But the local authorities delayed taking action against it reportedly because the chemical plant contributed in a large measure to the local GDP growth.

Local governments are justified in taking active measures to promote economic development and GDP growth. But GDP is only one part of social development.

Local authorities should strike a balance between economic and other developmental aspects. And it would be unwise for them to pursue GDP growth at the cost of public health.

(China Daily 08/11/2009 page9)

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