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Agricultural firm damaging ecology
By Qin Chuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-19 01:35

An agriculture development company in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region has been found to be seriously damaging the local environment.

The State Environmental Protection Administration has urged local environmental authorities to look into the case and take measures to help repair damage done to the local environment.

Pan Yue, vice-minister of the administration, said Wednesday that large areas in the Alashan Right Banner of the Alashan League have been desertified.

The Inner Mongolian company launched an agricultural project in 2001 that involves 2,666 hectares of land and 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million).

At that time, the company only had a development contract with the Alashan Right Banner government but did not undergo necessary procedures required by the environmental authorities.

In China, such large project must carry out environment impact assessment and get the green light from environmental authorities.

Ignorant of local conditions, the company blindly introduced plants, which failed to take root.

The project has left 140 hectares of land exposed and thus desertified, Pan said.

Local water resources have also been menaced by the project.

Sources with local environmental authorities say the local water resources can only afford to irrigate 1,666 hectares of land in an efficient way.

However, the investigation found that the project used flooding as an irrigation methods, which requires large quantity of water.

If all of the 2,666 hectares of land planned by the project was developed, local water resources would hardly recover from the impact, said the sources.

Dust from the Alashan League and winds from Siberia are the major reasons for the sandstorms that harass Beijing every spring, Pan said.

He said while the country invests large sums each year to improve the environment in the Alashan League, what the company had done is unforgivable.

The State Environmental Protection Administration, after receiving reports from local environmental protection volunteers, required the local environmental authorities to punish the company and take steps to help the environment recover.

It also urged the Inner Mongolia environmental authorities to find out who is to blame for the case.

Pan said in regions such as Inner Mongolia, where the ecological balance is very vulnerable, serious damage caused by unreasonable development should be prevented.

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