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Provinces to river polluters: Clean up your act
By Qin Chuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-08 22:17

The State Environmental Protection Administration has issued a circular urging four provinces in the Huaihe River region to crack down harder on river pollution.

Provincial environmental protection authorities are being asked to turn in small-sized companies such as paper plants and alcohol producers that should be shut down for polluting practices.

Licences for major companies that discharge pollutants and sewage treatment plants should be completed by the end of the year, the circular said.

And companies that release more pollutants than permitted will be publicized through the media and reported to the administration.

The circular suggests that provincial governments sign papers making city and county governments taking responsibility for control targets and to make clear pollution control responsibility and requirements.

The Huaihe River, the country's third-longest, supplies water for around 165 million people in Henan, Hubei, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces in Central and East China.

River pollution remains serious despite years of control efforts.

One of the latest examples was in late July, when unexpected rainstorms hit the river's upper reaches in Central China and a number of reservoirs swelled, forcing them to discharge water simultaneously.

As a result, the accumulated polluted water created a dirty zone that contaminated the river and rapidly moved downstream.

In Xuyi County, East China's Jiangsu Province, one of the worst affected regions, the incident killed 90 per cent of the county's aquatic products. It caused losses of 310 million yuan (US$37 million), according to statistics from the local aquatic products bureau.

In late October, a State Council conference on pollution control in the river was held in Bengbu, Anhui Province. Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan attended the conference.

At the conference, governments of the four provinces along the Huaihe River signed a pledge with the administration to cut pollution along the river, which was endorsed by the State Council.

The provinces have pledged to licence polluting firms beginning next year and to build additional sewage treatment plants. They will also curb agricultural pollution.

And, beginning next year, the four provincial governments will be required to account for their pollution control work to the administration.

It will then check to see if the provinces are fulfilling their pollution pledges and make a report to the State Council.

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